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29 Jan, 2023 11:44

Djokovic equals Grand Slam record with Australian Open title win

The Serb now has 22 majors to his name, level with Rafael Nadal on the men’s all-time list
Djokovic equals Grand Slam record with Australian Open title win

Novak Djokovic won a record-equaling 22nd Grand Slam title as he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the Australian Open final on Sunday. At the same time, Djokovic extended his record number of titles in Melbourne with a 10th triumph at the tournament.

After surging out of the blocks to take the first set at Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic was made to work by third seed Tsitsipas in the second and third sets. But the Serb applied his hallmark intensity to break the resistance from his Greek rival, winning 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) in a contest lasting two hours and 56 minutes.

With the title, Djokovic moves level with Spanish great Rafael Nadal on 22 Grand Slams at the pinnacle of the men’s all-time list. After Nadal’s latest injury woes in Australia and Djokovic’s own imperious march to yet another title, many will tip the Serb to move out on his own at the top of those standings – even with Nadal’s favored French Open next up on the Grand Slam calendar. 

Djokovic, 35, arrived back in Australia this year after his notorious deportation 12 months ago. He insisted that he did not bear a grudge, but at the same time acknowledged that it was not the kind of experience that could be easily forgotten.

The ordeal has certainly not blunted Djokovic’s iron will – something which has been as evident as ever during the past fortnight in Melbourne. The Serb was forced to contend with a hamstring injury early on during the tournament – later reacting angrily to suggestions that he was making a meal of the ailment.

Then followed the row surrounding his father Srdjan and a photo with a group of pro-Russian fans, with Djokovic lamenting the media coverage of the incident as another unwanted distraction. 

But on the court, Djokovic has not wavered from his task. He has been imperious in ensuring that he remains unbeaten in Melbourne since 2018, with Sunday’s final his 28th successive victory at the Australian Open. Remarkably, Djokovic has not lost any of the 10 finals he has contested at a tournament that he has firmly made his own.

Sunday’s title win means Djokovic returns to the summit of the ATP ratings as world number one. For Greek star Tsitsipas, 24, another chance at a maiden major title has gone begging after he was beaten by Djokovic in the final of the French Open in 2021, but he will hope to return again for a shot at Grand Slam glory and has time on his side. 

After paying tribute to Tsitsipas, an emotional Djokovic described his latest title win as “one of the most challenging tournaments” of his career. “Only the team and family know what we've been through the last four or five weeks. This probably is the biggest victory in my life, considering the circumstances,” said the Serb.

Should he be fit, Nadal will inevitably offer a threat at the French Open in May, but after the 36-year-old struggled again with injury in Melbourne, that seems far from certain. Djokovic, meanwhile, will eye Paris as an opportunity to move out on his own at the top of the all-time men’s Grand Slam title standings – a feat that many would back him to ultimately achieve.