Djokovic wins Australian Open, catches up with Nadal a year after deportation

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A year after being deported from Australia for lack of a vaccine against Covid-19, Serbian Novak Djokovic was crowned again on the main stage of his multi-champion career.

Not without new controversy – this time related to the war between Russia and Ukraine–, Djokovic won the Australian Open for the tenth time in ten finals. In the decision disputed this Sunday (29), in Melbourne, he beat the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas by 3 sets to 0, partials of 6/3, 7/6(4) and 7/6(5).

In addition to further isolating himself as the biggest champion of the tournament among men, Djokovic equals the Spaniard Rafael Nadal as the record holder of titles in Grand Slams. He now has 22 trophies at the highest level in the sport.

Along with the cup and personal marks, the Serbian tennis player guarantees his return to the top of the men’s world ranking, at the age of 35, and a prize of approximately R$ 10.8 million.

Djokovic was fifth in the standings, one below Tsitsipas. But his favoritism was wide, given his campaign in the current edition of the Australian Slam and his history in the tournament, and he was confirmed in the decision.

After a first set in which the Serb controlled the pace of the game, it closed at 6 to 3 with ease and seemed to be left on the court, the second set went to a tie break and balanced the decision. Tsitsipas, however, made more mistakes, and Djokovic consolidated the lead of 2 sets to 0.

The third set started with the potential to be the turning point of the match. The Greek tennis player broke the Serb’s service for the first time, but handed over his serve soon after for the rival to tie the partial, to be superior again and to conclude his 22nd Grand Slam title.

During the campaign in Melbourne, Djokovic enjoyed the support of the majority of the Australian fans, as he had in the road to the ATP 250 title in Adelaide, in early January.

Last year, Djokovic was stopped at the airport and detained by immigration control pending a court ruling on entry into the country. He had his visa canceled and was deported by the Australian government ten days after landing.

The athlete’s positioning was criticized in the sporting community and divided the public. “It’s a price I’m willing to pay. I’ll give up tournaments if I’m forced to get vaccinated. I’ve never been against vaccination but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body,” the Serb told the BBC after the match. occurred.

Even without immunization, the tennis player was cleared for this year’s tournament. With the wide vaccination coverage in the population and the control of the pandemic in the country, the organization decided to loosen the sanitary rules. “We just follow current protocol. It’s a normalized environment for us,” said Craig Tiley, competition director.

The good atmosphere gave way to renewed friction after the quarter-finals, when Djokovic’s father was filmed alongside pro-Russian demonstrators in Melbourne. One of them held a flag with a picture of the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, and was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the letter Z, a symbol used by Russian ultranationalists.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasil Miroshnichenko, asked that the tennis player’s father be banned from the event – ​​the flags of Russia and Belarus are banned from the tournament.

Djokovic came to his father’s defense and claimed there was a misunderstanding. “We do not support any kind of violence. There were a lot of Serbian flags and he thought he was taking pictures with Serbian fans,” said the tennis player.

“Obviously for me it’s not pleasant having to deal with that after everything that happened last year. I don’t need it right now. I hope people put it aside and focus on tennis.”

The new controversy and a discomfort in the left thigh did not prevent Djokovic from arriving as favorite for the decision against Tsitsipas. The two finalists had faced each other on 12 previous occasions, with ten wins for the Serb.

The 24-year-old Greek has been among the top ten rankings since 2019 –he reached number 3 in the world–, but was only playing his second Grand Slam decision in his career. On the other side there were already 33, an isolated record for the Serb among men.

Tsitsipas’ first final had been against Djokovic, and it had a bitter taste. He opened a 2-set lead to 0, but suffered the turnaround and saw the experienced opponent lift the Roland Garros trophy in 2021.

Redundant to say that the scenario was very favorable to Djokovic. The Serbian had never lost a game in semifinals or finals at the Australian Open – he was champion every time he reached the top four of the tournament.

In this year’s semi-final, he also broke the record for the most consecutive wins in the Australian Grand Slam. The series that started in the round of 16 of 2018 now reaches 28 straight victories, including this Sunday’s decision.

In addition to the ten achievements on Australian soil, Djokovic also triumphed seven times on grass at Wimbledon, three on the courts of the US Open and twice on clay at Roland Garros.

Djokovic’s Grand Slam Titles

  • Australian Open (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2023)
  • Wimbledon (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022)
  • US Open (2011, 2015 and 2018)
  • Roland Garros (2016 and 2021)

Greatest Grand Slam Winners

22

Rafael Nadal* (Spain) and Novak Djokovic* (Serbia)
20

Roger Federer (Switzerland)
14

Pete Sampras (United States)
12

Roy Emerson (Australia)

* In activity

Djokovic’s Australian Open 2023 campaign

first round

Novak Djokovic 3 x 0 Roberto Carballes Baena (75th) – partials 6/3, 6/4 and 6/0

second round

Novak Djokovic 3 x 1 Enzo Couacaud (191st) – partials 6/1, 6(5)/7, 6/2 and 6/0

third round

Novak Djokovic 3 x 0 Grigor Dimitrov (28th) – partials 7/6(7), 6/3 and 6/4

round of 16

Novak Djokovic 3 x 0 Alex de Minaur (24th) – partials 6/2, 6/1 and 6/2

Quarterfinals

Novak Djokovic 3 x 0 Andrey Rublev (6th) – partials 6/1, 6/2 and 6/4

Semifinal

Novak Djokovic 3 x 0 Tommy Paul (35th) – partials 7/5, 6/1 and 6/2

Final

Novak Djokovic x Stefanos Tsitsipas (4th) – splits 6/3, 7/6(4) and 7/6(5)

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