The Serbian made his Grand Slam breakthrough at Melbourne Park as a 20-year-old, disrupting the dominance of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the top of the game.
“I was dreaming of it many times. I was watching a lot of legends in the sport lifting up Grand Slam trophies, so I wished to be in that situation one day. So it's like a dream come true,” said Djokovic said after a 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6(2) victory over Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. It came four years after he made his Grand Slam debut at the tournament, when he drew eventual champion Marat Safin in the first round as a 17-year-old qualifier.
“He’s going to be a great player,” the Russian astutely noted. Few would have predicted though that 11 years later, at 28 Djokovic would hold the tournament record for most men’s singles title in the Open Era.
Four times the Serbian has beaten Brit Andy Murray in a Melbourne Park decider - in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016. His final against Spaniard Rafael Nadal in 2012 is the most memorable. The duo went head-to-head for a brutal five hours and 53 minutes – the longest match in tournament history and the longest Grand Slam singles final in the Open Era. Djokovic eventually prevailed 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7(5) 7-5.
“We live for these matches. We work every day. We're trying to dedicate all our life to this sport to come to the situation where we play six‑hour match for a Grand Slam title,” an exhausted Djokovic shared post-match.
Djokovic’s 2016 victory, with a 6-1 7-5 7-6(3) dismissal of Murray, saw him equal Roy Emerson’s all-time tournament record of six titles. It was a monumental feat not lost on the humble Serb. “It’s an incredible feeling in that I managed to make history and equal Roy Emerson’s record,” Djokovic said. “When you have the opportunity to make history it adds to your motivation and incentive before you come out on court. I tried to channel that and use it as a positive.”