“Rafael Nadal’s 22 Grand Slam” titles are surpassed by Novak Djokovic after his Australian Open victory.
In an exciting victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday, Novak Djokovic equalled Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam victories, won his tenth Australian Open championship, and reclaimed the top spot in the world rankings. On his comeback to Melbourne Park, the Serbian star survived a hamstring problem and off-court controversy to defeat the third-seeded Greek 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), and 7-6 (7/5) on Rod Laver Arena. After his son’s quarterfinals victory, father Srdjan sparked controversy by displaying a supporter holding a Russian flag bearing Vladimir Putin’s face. He went on to win the match without his father present.
After the victory, Djokovic walked to the player’s box to hug his mom and sobbed uncontrollably, dropping to the floor.
The 35-year-old fourth seed made a stunning return after missing the event the previous year due to his deportation due to his opposition to the COVID vaccine.
Djokovic won the Adelaide Open before reaffirming his status as an all-time great in Melbourne after a three-year suspension imposed by Australia was removed.
The legendary Spanish player unexpectedly withdrew from the French Open in the second round due to a hip ailment, but he plans to return for the clay-court campaign and another shot at a 23rd Slam championship at the tournament.
In opposition to Djokovic, who will unseat Spanish prodigy Carlos Alcaraz and reclaim the top spot for the very first time since June, Nadal is expected to fall in the rankings when they are announced on Monday. Tsitsipas will move up one spot, to third.
Djokovic achieved his first Grand Slam on Rod Laver Arena in 2008, while Tsitsipas made a splash in 2019 when he upset reigning champion Roger Federer in the round of 16.
Djokovic attempted to break Tsitsipas’s first serve twice but was unsuccessful. He persisted, and the Greek eventually gave him a break for a 3-1 lead with an incautious double mistake.
Tsitsipas, competing in just his second Grand Slam final versus Djokovic’s 33rd, seemed uneasy and dropped the opening set in just 36 minutes.
But as his momentum built, he fought back into the match in the second session, which was considerably tighter, by strengthening his service and earning some trigger points.
The event went to a tiebreak, where the Serb’s broad experience came into play, but he hung in there to preserve the set on serve.
Against all odds, Tsitsipas broke on Djokovic’s opening serve in set three for the very first time, but he quickly lost the lead after a riveting rally, leaving him unhappy with himself. Once again going to a tiebreak, Djokovic elevated his game to win yet another championship.