Djokovic Wins Australian Open to Equal Men’s Majors Record


Novak Djokovic has extended his reign as the King of Melbourne Park with a masterful performance against Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a 10th Australian Open title.

The Serbian champion, who joined Rafael Nadal at the top of the all-time grand slam list as a 22-time major winner, played superbly to win 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). 7-6 (7-5) in 2hr 56min.

A year after being deported from the country on the eve of the Australian Open, he has reclaimed his Kingdom at Rod Laver Arena. It is his 28th straight win at Melbourne Park.

Novak Djokovic.


After a tense second set, it was the 35-year-old’s serve that came to the fore in the third set, admittedly after a slow start. It is less recognized than his other weapons, but it is a ripper.

If Tsitsipas was to have any hope of prolonging the Australian Open final, it was important that he started the third set swiftly.

And he did so when breaking Djokovic, who left the court for an extended break after the second set, for the first time in the match in the opening game of the third set.

The problem? He handed the service break straight back to the champion in a momentum killer.

From then on he was always chasing the legend through the third set.

Having pressured Djokovic to serve for a series of games, he found it far harder to do so from then on.

The Serbian superstar was absolutely dominant on the delivery after the early blip, winning 20 straight points on his serve from 1-all in the third set through to 5-2 in the tiebreaker.

Djokovic’s backhand was errant in the second set, but it reverted to being a weapon in the third, with the 35-year-old regularly rifling winners from that wing.

The backhand down the line, in particular, was beautiful to watch.

Tsitsipas enjoyed success with the drop shot when he attempted it. But this was a rarity, in part due to the excellent depth the 4th seed conjured in rallies.

It is not surprising given the straight-sets scoreline, but Djokovic had the better of his rival across the spectrum of statistical measures related to rally length.

He held a +3 advantage in rallies of fewer than four shots, a +14 advantage in rallies between five and eight shots, and held a narrow one-point edge in extended exchanges beyond nine shots.

The King of Melbourne Park, who was emotional after the triumph, reigns supreme once again in the Australian Open.

On January 3, Lake Superior University in the US released its annual list of banned words and phrases it deems are overused, misused or useless.

The list featured the usual suspects — “moving forward”, “it is what it is”, and “gaslighting” — but at the top was an acronym that has become the compliment du jour of sports fans.

Novak Djokovic has played 10 Australian Open finals and won every one of them. Take a look at every winning moment from 2008 to 2023.

An athlete doesn’t have to do much these days to be labelled the “Greatest of All Time”. A footballer scores a goal — GOAT! A golfer wins a major — GOAT! Nick Kyrgios reaches the third round and/or buys his fiancée a Louis Vuitton handbag — GOAT!

You wanna be the GOAT? Go ahead. The bar has been set so low you only need to get through a game of over-35s soccer without tearing your calf and you, too, can be the GOAT.

Then there’s Novak Djokovic, one of the few athletes who have legitimate claims to being the GOAT but has become such an objectionable sod we can’t bring ourselves to say he’s the GOAT.

Even his latest kill, Stefanos Tsitsipas, struggled to confirm Djokovic’s GOAT-ness after being dismantled in Sunday night’s Australian Open final at Rod Laver Arena.

Novak Djokovic celebrates winning championship point in the Men’s Singles Final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Novak Djokovic celebrates winning championship point in the Men’s Singles Final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

It was Djokovic’s 10th win at the tournament, equalling Rafael Nadal’s grand slam record of 22. Very GOAT-worthy.

When Tsitsipas told the crowd that Djokovic was “one of the greatest in our sport”, the Serbians in the house roared their disapproval before he conceded: “He’s the greatest that has ever held a tennis racquet for sure.”

A day earlier, Channel Nine’s James Bracey asked an expert panel of Jim Courier, Todd Woodbridge and Dylan Alcott if victory for Djokovic would settle the GOAT debate.

All three danced around the question.

Novak Djokovic lifts the Australian Open trophy for a 10th time.

Novak Djokovic lifts the Australian Open trophy for a 10th time.CREDIT:EDDIE JIM

Woodbridge: “I don’t want to go there.” Alcott: “The greatest doesn’t always mean the most wins.” Courier: “He’ll have more majors than Rafa, more weeks at No.1, he’s one ahead of Rafa in their head-to-head. If you’re looking purely at the numbers, Novak’s going to end up with the best body of work.”

Are we still crushing so hard on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal that we can’t admit the Serb has gone past them? Are we so aggrieved by Djokovic’s self-importance that we can’t concede how good he is?

I’m not as outraged by Djokovic’s antics as others. Then again, I’m dead inside most days. I just see another entitled tennis player in a growing line of entitled tennis players incapable of admitting error, bitching and moaning about the media misrepresenting them.

Drama shadows Djokovic at almost every turn and you wonder, at some point, if he looks in the mirror and asks himself, “Maybe it’s me?”

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, pictured here in 2013.

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, pictured here in 2013.CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

It’s little wonder he and Kyrgios presently find themselves smack-bang in the middle of an old-fashioned bromance. Kyrgios has been gushing in his social media praise ever since Djokovic defeated Tsitsipas. God makes them and they find each other.

Djokovic has something Kyrgios never will: an unflinching belief in himself.

Tsitsipas’ best chance came in the seventh game of the second set. All the momentum was with him; he was punching the air and whipping the crowd into a supportive frenzy while Djokovic looked unhinged, tripping over his own feet and screaming at his box.

The tirade was so fierce that coach Goran Ivanisevic didn’t know where to look.

Did not matter. Djokovic held his nerve, held serve and claimed the set in the tiebreak before doing the same in the third.

His strength is that he doesn’t have any particular strength, except for that lethal two-handed backhand return. One of the great stats produced during this tournament revealed how he was standing, on average, a metre closer to the baseline than he did during rallies in 2021.

Djokovic makes his way around the court better than anyone but this year it was like watching someone play a brick wall.

He will never be as aesthetically pleasing as Federer, who approached a game of tennis like it was something to be framed and hung in a gallery. He will never be as admirable as Nadal, who courageously plays through his injuries without much fuss instead of using them to play mind games with his opponent.

And Djokovic will never be as popular as either of them.

Can you imagine if Nadal or Federer had won 10 titles at Melbourne Park? The statue would already have been cast and unveiled.

Instead, Djokovic bickers with the Melbourne Park crowd like it’s a schoolyard, asking for drunken and unruly fans to be ejected. They don’t respect him — and he doesn’t respect them.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect his record. If he plays another two or three years and goes beyond Nadal, the GOAT debate is over.

A hero is only as good as his villain, but Djokovic is the villain running out of heroes. If not an ageing Nadal, who is going to stop him?

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