Novak Djokovic has marked his Australian Open comeback in spectacular fashion, claiming a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the men’s finals.
Djokovic’s win at Rod Laver arena on Sunday, January 29 sees the 35 year old increase his number of Australian Open titles to 10 and grand slam victories to 22.
Although Djokovic appeared to secure his triumph with ease, he admitted that it was “one of the most challenging tournaments” he had played “in his life”.
“Considering the circumstances not playing last year, coming back this year, I want to thank all the people that made me feel welcome, made me feel comfortable to be in Melbourne, to be in Australia,” Djokovic said following the match.
“There is a reason why I’ve played my best tennis throughout my career in Australia and on this court in front of legendary Rod Laver. Thank you so much for being present tonight, sir.
“I tried to pinch myself and really live through these moments and it’s a long journey.
“I just have to say this because only the team and the family knows what we’ve been through in the last four or five weeks and this probably is the I would say the biggest victory in my life considering the circumstances.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2023
Despite his loss, Tsitsipas was humble in defeat, declaring Djokovic “the greatest that has ever held a tennis racquet for sure.”
“It speaks for yourself what you have achieved so far,” Tsitsipas said.
“It’s all in the numbers. Congratulations. Not only to yourself but to having, like, such supportive family.
“You know, I think it’s very similar the way we grew up around tennis, so it’s been an unbelievable journey for you so I admire what you have done for our sport. I think you make me a better player when I am on the court, so thank you.
“I’ve had the privilege to play a lot of difficult, high- intensity matches but I would like to say one more time Novak brings the best out in me they’ve been working my whole life for. He’s the one of the greatest in our sport and I think – he’s the greatest that has ever held a tennis racquet for sure.
“I haven’t done this but I’d like to thank you for pushing our sport so far. I think it deserves a player like you that pushes everyone, every single player, every single individual that’s involved in the sport to the max.”
Tennis fans across the globe were equally impressed with Djokovic’s performance, offering their praise for the tennis star.
Djokovic is the greatest ever. Forget grand slams, this guy overcame the most abhorrent treatment of any sportsman I’ve ever seen and he still had the grace to return to the country that treated him so bad and play like the warrior he is. Incredible
— J. (@StonedBatxx) January 29, 2023
Deserves a spot in a hall of fame
— Clinton Roberts (@Clint753BC) January 29, 2023
Congratulations! He was willing to lose it all last year. Putting his beliefs before his career, only to come back and win. Congratulations! A win in more ways than one.
— Triathlon Dad (@BH51585) January 29, 2023
HAIL TO THE KING, THE GOAT IS BACK ???? pic.twitter.com/rG6kX3dTs8
— Zé ???? (@fazsbro) January 29, 2023
Djokovic’s recent victory follows a tumultuous period for the tennis star, in 2022 his visa was cancelled over his vaccination status which prevented him from competing in the Australian Open at the time.
Djokovic’s visa was cancelled after arriving at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport at around 11:30 pm on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.
Following a court battle on January 10, the tennis star won his battle to stay in Australia and had his visa cancellation overturned. Judge Anthony Kelly ordered the visa cancellation to be overturned claiming it “was unreasonable.”
Following the court’s decision, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time. Hawke said he was cancelling Djokovic’s visa, “on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”.
— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) January 16, 2022
Djokovic was spotted leaving Australia at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport at 10:30pm on Sunday, January 16 flanked by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers as he boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai.
Djokovic was staring down the barrel of a three year ban from entering Australia, however, the Federal Government overturned the ban recently which allowed Djokovic to compete in this year’s Australian Open.