Australian Open 2023: Novak Djokovic completes his revenge mission against Australia

For 12 months, Novak Djokovic stewed on his ugly deportation from Melbourne without a chance to expand his trophy cabinet. The Serb just completed his ultimate revenge mission.

For 12 months, the Serbian superstar had been waiting for this moment, the Australian Open final on the court he had made his own for the past 15 years.

Rod Laver Arena was his playground and not being allowed to play in it last year was something he had been stewing on since the moment he was booted out of Australia due to Covid visa issues.

Unfortunately for Stefanos Tsitsipas, he was once again in the wrong place at the wrong time. His second loss in a Grand Slam final against Djokovic came after an intense 2-hour 56-minute battle 6-3 7-6 7-6.

Djokovic’s emotions boiled over immediately after the match point. He climbed into his player box and then collapsed and lay on the ground crying.

The Open champion eventually returned to his seat chair, where he buried his head and howled in tears.

Tsitsipas was a worthy participant in the historic moment of Djokovic’s 22nd Grand Slam title, which leveled him with Rafael Nadal on the list of all-time Grand Slam titles.

Although Djokovic is 35 years old, due to the exceptional level of tennis he plays, many say it’s only a matter of time before he lays claim to the greatest Grand Slam player of all time.

His victory over Tsitsipas also brought Djokovic back up to the world No. 1 rankings and extended his own record to 374 weeks at the top of men’s tennis.

The magical tenth Australian Open crown – he won his first in 2008 – was again highlighted by his incredible ability to downplay balls and keep points alive, which ultimately proved too much for his younger opponent.

A prime example came in game four of the opening set when Tsitsipas served a double fault to hand the only service break.

The second set was a different story as the 24-year-old started to find his reach while Djokovic started spraying balls wide and fussing with his players’ box.

Tsitsipas, who had won just two of the pair’s 12 games, had a set point on Djokovic’s serve at 4-5 but failed to build at the moment, usually deadly against the best player in the world.

Everything changed in the tie-break, there was another double fault from Tsitsipas and a trademark Djokovic brilliance that saw him win after 70 riveting minutes.

The third movement followed a well-known formula. Djokovic absorbed the pressure, brought his nose up – at one point winning 17 points in a row on his serve – and then waited for his opponent to follow up, which they always do.

As usual, it had been a complicated fortnight for Djokovic.

First he had to deal with allegations of faking a hamstring injury, leading opponents to question its validity as he still dispatched them with ease.

When his father was photographed with Russian fans illegally raising the country’s flag, it was a PR disaster that cast a shadow over his run to the final.

While Srdjan Djokovic watched the semifinals and final at home, his son, as usual, turned the negatives into a stream of positives at the Rod Laver Arena.

For Tsitsipas, he knows he’s getting closer to climbing Everest in tennis.

At the French Open two years ago, Tsitsipas won the opening two sets in his maiden Grand Slam final before losing to Djokovic in an epic five-set showdown.

Despite that defeat, he’s still moving up to the same career-high World No. 3 and will leave Melbourne knowing he’s clearly the next man.

Trouble is, it could be a few more years since there’s no sign of the man at the top disappearing any time soon.

Originally released as Australian Open 2023: Novak Djokovic completes his revenge mission against Australia Australian Open 2023: Novak Djokovic completes his revenge mission against Australia

Ryan Sederquist

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