the serbian Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the final of the Australian Open by 6-3, 7-6(4) and 7-6(5) in two hours and 55 minutes, and equaled the Spanish Rafael Nadal with 22 Grand Slam titles.
With the victory, the Balkan stole the first world position from the also Spanish Carlos Alcaraz and added his tenth Australian Open, a competition that he did not play last year after the Australian government canceled his visa for not being vaccinated against the coronavirus.
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It was his twenty-eighth consecutive victory in the oceanic ‘major’ and he moved away from the American André Agassi who had a mark of 26 consecutive wins.
He also equaled Nadal and the German in third position Steffi Graff in the general classification of men and women with the most Grand Slam titles, a list led by the Australian margaret court with 24, and followed by American Serena Williams with 23.
Tsitsipas was slow to find his rhythm in the early stages of the clash, while Djokovic used his experience to go into the match with the solidity he showed in his last two victories, against Russian Andrey Rublev (5) and American Tommy Paul.
The Greek’s service was not as solvent as that of the Serbian, who did not concede any break point and scored one of the three he had in his favor, in a first set that fell 6-3 on his side.
The main difference in the first round was in the effectiveness with firsts: Tsitsipas had 60 percent of firsts in play, which contrasted with 72% for Belgrade.
The tables turned in a second set in which the third seed was more energetic, improved his first serve percentage and managed to punish more with his reverse forehand.
The Greek celebrated furiously for the first time in the match, after maintaining a complicated service game to establish the 2-3 in their favor, and the stands, divided by marked Serbian and Greek sectors, erupted to thank the high tennis level that they were witnessing
Djokovic went through the most difficult moments since the final began, not adjusting his steps well in the backhand area and suffering a spectacular fall in the seventh game of the second set. The man from Belgrade dropped the racket to the ground and looked at the palm of his hand, in front of a Tsitsipas who didn’t even notice the mishap as a result of his extreme concentration.
The defending champions from Adelaide raised the bar at the right time, after saving a set point at 4-5, as well as closing that same game, with two long exchanges that kept him alive in the set dispute.
The second set was decided in a tie-break game that started with a great defense of the rest by Djokovic, which caused a look of despair on the face of a Tsitsipas who had been impassive up to now.
The man from Belgrade activated the cruise mode until 4-1, but his only negative note of the set, the adjustment of legs on the wrong side, revived a Tsitsipas who recovered the two mini-breaks from a disadvantage.
It was at this crucial moment that Djokovic’s fortitude prevailed against a Tsitsipas who made two unforced errors and one forced error, to give the Balkans the tiebreaker game 7-4.
The Serbian was able once again to score a set despite the fact that his level was not as desired, a fact that was evidenced by his seven unforced errors with the backhand and the 66% of first in games, which they countered with the 72 % of the first set.
The match seemed seen as a verdict, after the airy anger of an upset Tsitsipas was added to the bulging scoreboard, but the Greek surprised with a break in the first game of the third set.
A fan gave Tsitsipas some air, after squealing just before the Serb executed a slice backhand, which meant the first point of a tiebreaker game that looked set for the sentence.
Tsitsipas did not give up, not wanting to put an end to a convincing tour in Australia, and he shortened the distance until he fulfilled his two services and left the match at 6-5.
Rod Laver, who was close to a full house, kept a stony silence to witness his great champion, Novak Djokovic, close his tenth Australian Open after opening the court with an angled right cross that caused his rival to miss.
One of the big differences between the Greek and the Balkan was the great ability to defend of an elastic Djokovic, who forced his rival to execute two or three winning shots to close the point.
Despite his youth, the Hellenic tennis player, more rigid than the 35-year-old Serb, did not force his rival to hit more than one winner to end the rally, as a result of his lesser defensive capacity.
His furious blows, which stunned the Rod Laver public, were not enough to put the intelligence and varied proposal of the Balkan master in trouble.
He could not be accompanied on his big night by his father Srdjan Djokovicafter both made the decision as a result of the video in which he appeared with followers of Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the outskirts of Melbourne Park, after his victory in the quarterfinals against the Russian Rublev.
It was the first match since the competition began in which the Serbian did not wear the bandage to protect his left thigh from the ailment suffered in the second and third rounds.
On his way to the title, the Serbian beat the Spanish Roberto Carballés, the Frenchman Enzo Couacaud, the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov (27), the Australian Alex De Minaur (22), Russian Andrei Rublev (5) and the American Tommy Paul.
On the other hand, the Czechs Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) got their seventh slam crown by beating the Japanese Shuko Aoyama (10) and Ena Shibahara 6-4, 6-3, in the doubles final of the Open from Australia. (Piqué, without escape: they play music by Shakira in the middle of the Barcelona stadium)
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