Exactly one year ago, he was kicked out of the tournament and couldn’t even step on the court.
Novak Djokovic (36, Serbia, 5th in the world) beat Stephanos Tsitsipas (25, Greece, 4th) in the Australian Open men’s singles final held at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia on the 29th after a bloody battle of 2 hours and 56 minutes. 0 (6-3 7-6<7-4> 7-6<7-5>). Djokovic has reached the Australian Open final 10 times, winning all of them. He increased his record of most Australian Open championships to 10, and tied shoulders with Rafael Nadal (37, Spain, 2nd place) for the most wins in this category while holding his 22nd major championship trophy in his arms. It was the first time in seven months since June of last year that he regained the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.
For Djokovic, the Australian Open was such a special place that he said several times that he was “my favorite tournament”. However, in 2022, when Corona was rampant, he was expelled after a court battle with the Australian government and could not even participate in the competition. Even at this time, the Australian Open put forward a policy that all players, coaches, and volunteers should be vaccinated against the corona, because he tried to compete in an unvaccinated state.
During the trial, he lived like an illegal alien in a local hotel notorious for its rat and cockroach infested beds and filth and stench. Djokovic’s parents held daily protests, saying, “Don’t treat my son as a criminal.” In the end, Djokovic, who was called ‘Australia’s man’, was treated as a criminal and kicked out of Australia. It was a humiliating yet disappointing moment. However, as quarantine standards were eased this year, Djokovic was able to compete. He entered Australia with extraordinary determination and tried to make a comeback, losing only one set to his opponent until reaching the final. 안전놀이터
Tsitsipas, his opponent in the finals, put pressure on Djokovic with a strong serve that exceeded 211 km/h and a powerful one-handed backhand that seemed to wield a whip. However, Djokovic, like the ‘King of the Australian Open’, showed off a spear and shield at the same time that evoked admiration at every decisive moment. In the end, even going to the tiebreak twice in the final, he showed concentration and lifted his 10th Australian Open championship without giving up a single set.
Djokovic lifted his arms as if he had succeeded in revenge when Tsitsipas’ shot went off the line in the championship point situation and the championship was confirmed. Then, he ran to the stands where the coach and team were located, hugging them, cheering and weeping.
“The most difficult competition”
Ahead of the tournament, Djokovic complained of a hamstring muscle injury in his left leg. So he competed with a white compression bandage on his left leg throughout the tournament. The bandage was not visible on this day, but he looked uncomfortable, grabbing his leg several times during the game.
As if conscious of this point, Djokovic opened fire at the awards ceremony after the game, saying, “I don’t know where to start,” and said, “My team and family know how hard the last four or five weeks have been. I think this competition was the most difficult competition for me in many ways. Last year, I couldn’t even play in the tournament,” he said meaningfully. Then, he said, “I gained strength thanks to the people who welcomed me as if I had come to my hometown,” and “I hope to see you again next year.”
In the women’s singles final held on the 28th, Arina Savalenka (25th, 5th) from Belarus beat Elena Rybakhina (24th, Kazakhstan, 25th) with a set score of 2:1 (4-6 6-3 6-4). I pressed and tasted the first major championship in my career.