Melbourne, Jan 29 (IANS) Novak Djokovic claimed his 10th Australian Open singles title, preserving his perfect record in Melbourne Park by beating Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) and equalling Rafael Nadal on 22 Grand Slam crowns on Sunday night.
The historic achievement triggered an outpouring of emotion from Djokovic, who climbed into his player box to share a tear-filled moment with his team while celebrations also erupted among the sea of Serbian flags in Melbourne Park's Garden Square.
The win also assured Djokovic's return to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings for the first time since last June. The 35-year-old will replace Carlos Alcaraz in the top spot on Monday after notching his 10th tour-level victory in a row against Tsitsipas, who would have claimed the top spot himself with victory in Sunday's final.
It was the second meeting between Djokovic and Tsitsipas in a major final. At Roland Garros in 2021, Djokovic rallied from two-sets-to-love down to defeat the Greek and claim victory on the Paris clay.
Despite falling just short of becoming the first Greek to win a Grand Slam title, Tsitsipas will return to his career-high of No. 3 in the ATP Rankings on Monday after reaching his maiden final in Melbourne.
Djokovic confidently assumed control early on the Rod Laver Arena. Although the Greek raised his game in the second and third sets to ensure some absorbing rallies, which whipped up an intense atmosphere in the crowd, the Serbian was clinical at key moments to seal a two-hour, 56-minute victory and improve his record in the Australian Open finals to 10-0.
On several occasions in the second set, the Greek reacted to winning crucial points by rousing his supporters in the crowd, and the third seed fed off the febrile atmosphere to raise his level at the Rod Laver Arena.
Yet although Tsitsipas carved out the sole break point chance of the set (which doubled as a set point) at 4-5, 30/40, Djokovic found a way to pull through. He arrowed a sublime forehand winner to save the set point and held his nerve again to claim the tie-break despite having dropped three straight points to surrender a 4/1 lead.
Tsitsipas again threatened a resurgence in the third set, claiming his only break of the match in the opening game. As he so often has on the big stage throughout his career, however, Djokovic responded immediately. He broke back in the next game before clinching a third set dominated by serve - and his historic victory -- with a commanding tie-break display.
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