Australian Open: Even Djokovic's 'vivid imagination' could not have dreamt up a 10th Melbourne final

By Sports Desk January 27, 2023

Novak Djokovic said even his vivid imagination could not have dreamt up playing a 10th Australian Open final 15 years after winning his first at Melbourne Park.

The Serbian great has the chance to win a record-equalling 22nd grand slam for a male player after hammering Tommy Paul 7-5 6-1 6-2 – a scoreline that would have been even more commanding had Djokovic not endured a first-set blip from 5-1 up.

Djokovic is already a nine-time singles champion in Melbourne, with his first triumph coming back in 2008, and only Stefanos Tsitsipas stands in his way of a 10th.

"I have a pretty vivid and strong imagination, but even I don't think I imagined it would turn out this way," he said during his on-court interview on Rod Laver Arena.

"Super blessed and grateful, I'm trying to cherish and marvel in every moment. Without my family, without my team these things wouldn't be possible. 

"You're by yourself, all eyes are on you, you take responsibility, you take credit, but you have to give credit where it's due and that's to the team who live with me day by day in good and bad moments. This is as much their success as it is mine."

Only one other male player has won double-digit titles at a single slam, that being Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

Tsitsipas is a player Djokovic has faced in a major final before, defeating the Greek at the 2021 French Open showpiece in a match where he had to come from sets down.

"I won that match, so my recollections are very positive!" Djokovic added to a laugh.

"I came from two sets to love down, I think it was the first time I came down from two sets down in a slam final. It was his first slam final, a really physical and emotional battle. It always is with Stefanos. 

"I respect him a lot, he's one of the most interesting guys off the court, with his interests and hairstyle. But it's all business on Sunday, let the best player win."

Both players were involved in a slog at the start of the second set and when asked about his energy levels, Djokovic joked: "It's great, it's perfect, it's 110 per cent!"

He then added: "Look, of course you're not as fresh as at the beginning of the tournament that's for sure.

"We put a lot of effort in the off season weeks on our fitness, to be in good enough condition to play best-of-five sets."

Sunday's victor will also ascend to the top of the ATP rankings, something Djokovic concedes does add extra spice.

"Of course it does, winning grand slams and being number one are the two biggest peaks you can climb as a tennis player," he said. "Let's see what happens."

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