The GOAT debate in men's tennis is getting tougher by the day. Novak Djokovic claimed a record-breaking 10th Australian Open title on Sunday (January 30). He defeated Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) in the final in Melbourne to get tied with Rafael Nadal's record of 22 Grand Slam titles.
What makes his 10th title at Melbourne Park's Garden Square even more special is the fact that last year the Serb was not even allowed to participate in the tournament over his Covid vaccination denial.
How important this win was for him was evident from the outpouring of emotions from Djokovic, who climbed into his player box to share a tear-filled moment with his team and his family.
'Biggest victory': Djokovic said this is one of the most challenging tournaments that he has ever played in his life. "Not playing last year, coming back this year. I want to thank all the people who made me feel welcome. There is a reason why I have played my best tennis on this court, in front of legendary Rod Laver," he said.
"It is a long journey. All my team and family knows what we have been through in the past four or five weeks and this is probably the biggest victory of my life," Djokovic said.
A testing year: 2022 couldn't have started any worse for Djokovic as he was deported from Australia in January last year because he was not vaccinated against Covid. "Everything that has followed Australia, particularly in the tournaments, has been a huge challenge and obstacle for me to overcome emotionally," he had said.
- The year also saw him suffer several injuries and some off-court controversies. But he battled through them all to first win the Wimbledon and now the Australian Open in 2023.
- In March, he was barred entry to the United States due to his Covid vaccination status and was unable to play the Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1000s. And then again in August, he was denied entry to the States which led to him missing Montreal, Cincinnati, and US Open tournaments.
- But if we leave aside the events he missed due to his vaccination status and injuries, Djokovic was just brilliant in the tournaments he played in. Other than the Wimbledon, he went on to win many other ATP titles including Rome, Tel Aviv, and Astana. Djokovic also became the oldest winner of the ATP finals at 35 years and 6 month.
- This year also saw Djokovic becoming the first player to record 30-plus singles wins at all ATP Masters 1000 and he also became the record holder for the highest career winning percentage (minimum 500 wins) at 83.35% (1031-206 record).
- At Roland Garros, Djokovic won four matches without the loss of a set before losing to Nadal in the quarterfinal 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4). But his biggest achievement of the year was winning the Wimbledon. When Nadal won his 22nd Grand Slam title at the French Open this year, we all knew Djokovic would be eyeing that top spot. He won his seventh Wimbledon title with a four-set win over Australia's Nick Kyrgios.
Djokovic's astonishing numbers: Djokovic's seventh Wimbledon title in 2022 saw him go one clear of Roger Federer's career tally of 20 Slams and now he is at the top with Nadal.
- Other than the Grand Slams, Djokovic has a record 38 ATP Masters 1000 titles. He has now won a total of 93 ATP Tour events and is the only man to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles at the same time.
- He has 10 Australian Opens, seven Wimbledon titles, three US Opens, and two Roland Garros trophies. With his seventh Wimbledon title, he also tied the second spot with William Renshaw and Pete Sampras, trailing only to Federer's eight titles.
- Djokovic is also the first man in tennis history to win two different Grand Slams seven or more times each. The Serb also stretched his unbeaten streak in Melbourne to 28 matches, the longest run in the Open era, which dates to 1968.
- After his win at the Australian Open, Djokovic will again become number one in men's rankings. He has been ranked No 1 for a total of 353 weeks, a record in men's tennis.