With almost absolute control, he had the answer to everything. Nothing could prevent him from writing history. Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets of 6-3, 7-6 (4) and 7-6 (5) to equal the record of 22 Grand Slam titles held by Rafael Nadal on Sunday morning at the Internationals of ‘Australia.

After winning the last point in the tiebreaker, Djokovic turned to his team. He pointed to his head, then his heart. The tall Serb then joined his loved ones in the stands before bursting into tears in his mother’s arms and collapsing under the emotions. For long seconds, he remained lying at the feet of his team members, in tears. A Djokovic as we have never seen him.

“Only my team and my family know what I’ve been through in the last four or five weeks. This is without doubt the greatest victory of my life,” he said at the microphone, trophy in hand.

PHOTO ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Novak Djokovic with his mother, Dijana

“I must say that this tournament was one of the biggest challenges of my life, considering the circumstances,” he also said, referring to last year, when he was banned from the tournament because of of their vaccination status.

This is a 10e title in as many Australian Open finals for the great athlete who, at 35, is proving once again that he is still at the top of his game. Sensational art. This victory will also give him first place in the ATP rankings when the next update is on Monday.

His opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas, paid tribute to him when he received his runner-up plaque.

“I think he’s the best to ever hold a tennis racket,” he blurted out, to cheers from the crowd.

“I would like to thank you for pushing our sport so far,” added the 4e global. […] A player like you pushes everyone involved in the sport to be better. »

Few errors

It was enough from the first game to understand that Djokovic was still in almost perfect shape, despite his bandaged left thigh, and that the task would be daunting for Tsitsipas. Because when the member of the big three is in such a shape, everything is within reach.

Djoko was clearly superior in the first round, playing patience, moving his opponent. He broke it for the first time to make it 3-1, without ever facing a break point in this first set.

Tsitsipas, as if handcuffed, had until then only had control over one aspect: his service. He had six aces to one for Djokovic, but the Serb ultimately had the upper hand 6-3.

PHOTO WILLIAM WEST, FRANCE-PRESSE AGENCY

Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas

It was during his service game at 1-1 in the second set that Tsitsipas finally came out of his torpor. Djokovic, a bit less energetic, started making small mistakes.

Tsitsipas’ first break came as he led 5-4 in the second set. Djokovic therefore took longer on serve, playing into his opponent’s head. The 35-year-old athlete took the next two points, first on a nice placement, then on a ball that was too long from the Greek.

The round, which had been stretching for more than an hour, was therefore decided as a tiebreaker. After taking a 4-1 lead, Djokovic saw Tsitsipas come from behind until it was 4-4. “Tsitsipas, Tsitsipas! cried the Greek delegation in the stands. But the 24-year-old couldn’t keep up the pace, awarding the next three points, and the set, to Djokovic.

On the return in the third set – after waiting more than 7 minutes for his opponent to be back on the court – Tsitsipas went there with precise blows to break Djokovic from the first game. The happiness was however short-lived; the veteran player on the other side of the pitch returned the favor on the next play.

The games then marched on until the tiebreaker, which Djokovic started strong. Tsitsipas, looking petrified, gave the Serb a 5-0 lead before earning a first point. Then two. Then three up the slope to 6-5. But Djokovic finally managed the final point to win and complete his mission.

dream big

Djokovic praised Tsitsipas in his speech, saying “it’s definitely not [son] last Grand Slam. “You still have time, much more than me! he threw at her.

The champion then addressed the young athletes who “dream of being here, where Stefanos and I are”.

“Dream big, because anything is possible. Don’t let anyone stop you from achieving your dream, no matter where you come from. The more difficulties you go through, the stronger you become. […] Find the person who will support you in your dream, even if there is only one, and dream big. Because you can do it. »

Now it’s clear that Djokovic will want to claim the men’s record of 23 Grand Slam titles. Could he get there in June, at Roland-Garros?

You know the answer to this question.

Djokovic’s father misses the final

Novak Djokovic’s father did not attend the start of the Australian Open final between his son and Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday, after a controversy arose from images on which he was seen posing with pro-Russian supporters at the stadium exterior in Melbourne.

Srdjan Djokovic, already absent in Friday’s semi-final, was not seated in the stands with his son’s coaching staff, the seat he usually occupies alongside his wife Dijana remaining empty.

A video posted on a pro-Russian Australian YouTube account on Thursday showed Srdjan Djokovic posing outside the stadium with a man holding a Russian flag bearing the likeness of President Vladimir Putin.

The video was captioned: “Novak Djokovic’s father makes bold political statement”.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, then asked that Srdjan Djokovic’s accreditation be withdrawn.

Faced with the controversy, Srdjan Djokovic did not attend his son’s victory in the semi-final against Tommy Paul so as not to “cause disturbances”, declaring in a press release that he only wanted “peace”.

Novak Djokovic, “affected” by this controversy, had hoped that his father could attend the final on Sunday.

France Media Agency