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Report: Number 10 for Novak sees Djokovic join Nadal

  • Alex Sharp

Men's singles final

Ruling Melbourne again, ruling the world again. "This is the biggest victory of my life," said Novak Djokovic. Given his glittering list of achievements, it's one almighty claim.

The Serbian posted a trademark devastating performance in a Grand Slam decider with a 6-3 7-6(4) 7-6(5) scoreline to topple Stefanos Tsitsipas in the men's singles final of Australian Open 2023 at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night.

The numbers of 10, 22 and 1 are the significant digits to succinctly summarise Djokovic's status as an all-time great.

The 35-year-old lifted a 10th Australian Open title, equalling Rafael Nadal on a men's record 22 majors. In doing so, Djokovic returns to the summit as world No.1.

On top, Down Under: it's the way for Djokovic at the Australian Open (Getty Images)

"This has been one of the most challenging tournaments I have played in my life," stated Djokovic. "What a journey it has been for my family, my team and myself.

"I try to pinch myself and really live through these moments. Only the team and the family knows what we have been through in the last four or five weeks."

The build-up

Djokovic was out to enhance his era-defining legacy, and the Serbian had every reason to be confident, riding a record 27-match winning streak on his "favourite court" coming into the final.

On top of that, the 'Big Three' fixture held a 10-2 head-to-head facing the philosophical Greek.

Every stat, every record pointed to a Djokovic triumph. 

"I know what's ahead of me," said Djokovic. "Fortunately for me at this stage of my career, because of all the achievements, it is always basically every match or every tournament there is always something on the line, particularly when the Grand Slams are played."

MORE: AO 2023 men's singles draw

For Tsitsipas, the stakes couldn't be higher. 

"I find myself in the position, couldn't be more ready for this moment," declared the 24-year-old, who let a two-set lead slip to Djokovic in the 2021 Roland-Garros final.

Tsitsipas arrived at his first AO final in sparkling form (Getty Images)

"I just see no downside or negativity in what I'm trying to do out there. Even if it doesn't work, I'm very optimistic and positive about any outcome, any opponent that I have to face."

Story of the match 

Djokovic was razor-sharp from the start, stamping his authority with seven of the first nine points, which rapidly became a 3-1 lead.

The world No.5 scurried along the baseline and in a skiing stance, clipped a majestic backhand pass. 

In just 36 minutes, the chants of 'Nole' were ringing around the stands and across the grounds of Melbourne Park with the opener in the bag.

A brushstroke single-handed backhand in the second set was a promising sign for the Greek contingent. World No.4 Tsitsipas was striking with far more conviction, and a dinked drop shot for 3-3 evoked plenty of belief from the 24-year-old.

Djokovic skidded from side to side behind the baseline and took a tumble. If the first set exemplified his exquisite talent, the second portrayed his unrivalled defiance and defence. 

At 5-4, a brace of errors gifted Tsitsipas a set point, only for Djokovic to rip an inside-in forehand winner. 

The pressure was mounting, but the Greek launched consecutive aces at 201km/h to demand a response from Djokovic.

With 92 minutes on the clock, the winner of 92 career titles earned a tie-break. Unwavering, unrelenting, Djokovic hardly changed expression across the 11 points, utilising his champion's instincts from 4-4 to snatch the set.

Tsitsipas, in a maiden Australian Open final, displayed his self-described "Spartan attitude" to break instantly in the third set.

A selection of immense winners, lung-bursting rallies – this top-five duo wouldn't crack, and another tiebreak was required.

When it came, Djokovic simply elevated. 

A rocket forehand return winner was the catalyst, the perfect 10 achieved. 

Key stats

What Next Gen? At 35 years and 252 days old, Djokovic is now the third-oldest man in the Open Era to win the Australian Open. 

MORE: Djokovic v Tsitsipas match statistics

Holding the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup once again, it's the Serbian's 10th major since turning 30, extending another mind-boggling Open-Era record in his favour. 

On Monday, Djokovic will begin his 374th week as world No.1 to – you guessed it – extend another men's record. 

What this means for Djokovic

Fifteen years after his first Australian Open crown, it still means everything. Djokovic had an outpouring of raw emotion at championship point.

Jumping up and over the courtside screens to greet his family, Djokovic roared, hugged and cried. 

Title number 10 elicited an emotional response from Djokovic (Getty Images)

A fortnight of chasing history had clearly taken its toll. 

What's next for Tsitsipas?

Just like the 2021 Roland-Garros final defeat to Djokovic, this will sting for the Greek.

The 24-year-old is ever-so-close with his free-flowing game and will surely be in contention for the remainder of 2023 on the major stage. 

Tsitsipas falls to 0-2 in major finals, both at the hands of Djokovic (Getty Images)

"I have had the privilege to play a lot of difficult and high intensity matches, but Novak brings out the best in me," said Tsitsipas. 

"He's one of the greatest in our sport, and he's the greatest that has ever held a tennis racquet, for sure.

"It's not easy, another final at a Grand Slam, but I am always willing to go back on court and work harder."