Australian Open: Djokovic the 'greatest that ever held a tennis racquet', declares runner-up Tsitsipas

By Sports Desk January 29, 2023

Stefanos Tsitsipas paid tribute to Novak Djokovic after losing to the Serbian in Sunday's Australian Open final, lauding him as the "greatest that ever held a tennis racquet".

Djokovic was at his dominant best as he drew level with Rafael Nadal on 22 men's grand slam singles titles thanks to a straight-sets win over Tsitsipas at Melbourne Park.

The 35-year-old won 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) at Rod Laver Arena to make it 10 wins from as many Australian Open finals.

Djokovic was barred from defending his own crown last year when deported from Australia due to his COVID-19 vaccination status, but he returned with a vengeance in 2023, dropping just one set across seven matches as he also reclaimed the world number one spot.

But most importantly it put him level again with Nadal in terms of major titles after the Spaniard won in Melbourne and Roland Garros last year.

Despite this parity, Tsitsipas has no doubt who he believes is the best to ever play the sport.

"Novak, I don't know what to say. It speaks for itself what you have achieved so far," said the 24-year-old, whose wait for a maiden grand slam title continues. "It's all in the numbers.

"Congratulations, not only to yourself but having such a supportive family. I think it is very similar the way we grew up around tennis, so it's been an unbelievable journey for you.

"I admire what you've done for our sport, and I think you make me a better player when are on court.

 

"I have had the privilege to play a lot of difficult and high intensity matches, but I would like to say one more time Novak brings out the best in me.

"He's one of the greatest in our sport, and he's the greatest that has ever held a tennis racquet, for sure.

"I'd like to thank you for pushing our sport so far. I think it deserves a player like you who pushes every single player that's involved in the sport to the max."

Tsitsipas, who was bidding to become the 27th male singles champion at the Australian Open, had his moments as he forced set point in the second and broke Djokovic at the start of the third.

But Djokovic's famed powers of recovery were as strong as ever, and Tsitsipas – beaten by the same opponent in the 2021 French Open final – quickly turned his attention back to the daily grind.

"It's not easy, another final at a grand slam, but I am always willing to go back on court and work harder," he continued. "I would like to thank my team for coming on this journey with me.

"I am happy I have group of supportive people around me, people who wake up every single day and have the same goals and ambitions as me. I'm extremely privileged that I get to do this for a living."

Related items

  • Wimbledon: Record-chasing Djokovic acknowledges 'history is on the line' ahead of Alcaraz final Wimbledon: Record-chasing Djokovic acknowledges 'history is on the line' ahead of Alcaraz final

    Novak Djokovic knows "history is on the line" as he prepares to face Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final for the second year running.

    The Serb can move clear of Margaret Court and become the most decorated player in Grand Slam history with a 25th title, while matching Roger Federer's record of eight men's singles crowns at SW19.

    Djokovic will appear in his 10th Wimbledon final on Sunday, aiming to avenge his defeat by Alcaraz in a five-set thriller on Centre Court 12 months ago.

    The 37-year-old acknowledges there will be huge expectations on his shoulders when he steps out for a sixth consecutive championship match at the All England Club, but he will attempt to use it as "fuel" for success.

    "Obviously, I'm aware that Roger holds eight Wimbledon [titles]. I hold seven," he said. "History is on the line. Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam.

    "Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time, it's also a lot of pressure and expectation.

    "Any Grand Slam that I play, there's always history now on the line. I will try to use that as a fuel to play my best tennis.

    "Every time I step out on the court now, even though I'm 37 and competing with 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win 99% of the matches that I play.

    "I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at a level with Carlos, Jannik [Sinner], Sascha [Zverev], Daniil [Medvedev], or any of those guys."

    Incredibly, Djokovic has endured a silverware-free season up to this point, while he withdrew from last month's French Open at the quarter-final stage to undergo knee surgery.

    However, the 24-time major champion highlighted 2018 as a previous example of a successful campaign that had started slowly.

    Indeed, he recovered from an elbow operation earlier in the year - along with fourth-round and quarter-final exits from the Australian Open and French Open respectively - to win Wimbledon and the US Open.

    "This year hasn't been that successful for me," he added. "It's probably the weakest results in the first six months I've had in many years.

    "That's okay. I had to adapt and accept that, and also really try to find a way out from the injury that I had and regroup.

    "At Wimbledon, historically, there have been seasons where I maybe wasn't playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.

    "Wimbledon just extracts the best of me and motivates me to always show up and perform the best I can."

  • Record-chasing Djokovic acknowledges 'history is on the line' ahead of Wimbledon final Record-chasing Djokovic acknowledges 'history is on the line' ahead of Wimbledon final

    Novak Djokovic knows "history is on the line" as he prepares to face Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final for the second year running.

    The Serb can move clear of Margaret Court and become the most decorated player in Grand Slam history with a 25th title, while matching Roger Federer's record of eight men's singles crowns at SW19.

    Djokovic will appear in his 10th Wimbledon final on Sunday, aiming to avenge his defeat by Alcaraz in a five-set thriller on Centre Court 12 months ago.

    The 37-year-old acknowledges there will be huge expectations on his shoulders when he steps out for a sixth consecutive championship match at the All England Club, but he will attempt to use it as "fuel" for success.

    "Obviously, I'm aware that Roger holds eight Wimbledon [titles]. I hold seven," he said. "History is on the line. Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam.

    "Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time, it's also a lot of pressure and expectation.

    "Any Grand Slam that I play, there's always history now on the line. I will try to use that as a fuel to play my best tennis.

    "Every time I step out on the court now, even though I'm 37 and competing with 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win 99% of the matches that I play.

    "I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at a level with Carlos, Jannik [Sinner], Sascha [Zverev], Daniil [Medvedev], or any of those guys."

    Incredibly, Djokovic has endured a silverware-free season up to this point, while he withdrew from last month's French Open at the quarter-final stage to undergo knee surgery.

    However, the 24-time major champion highlighted 2018 as a previous example of a successful campaign that had started slowly.

    Indeed, he recovered from an elbow operation earlier in the year - along with fourth-round and quarter-final exits from the Australian Open and French Open respectively - to win Wimbledon and the US Open.

    "This year hasn't been that successful for me," he added. "It's probably the weakest results in the first six months I've had in many years.

    "That's okay. I had to adapt and accept that, and also really try to find a way out from the injury that I had and regroup.

    "At Wimbledon, historically, there have been seasons where I maybe wasn't playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.

    "Wimbledon just extracts the best of me and motivates me to always show up and perform the best I can."

  • 'Best day of my life' – Krejcikova celebrates maiden Wimbledon title 'Best day of my life' – Krejcikova celebrates maiden Wimbledon title

    Barbora Krejcikova said winning Wimbledon marks the best day of her life as she celebrated an unexpected triumph.

    The Czech earned her maiden title at All England Club with a hard-fought 6-2 2-6 6-4 victory over Jasmine Paolini in Saturday's final.

    It brought up Krejcikova's second grand slam title, after the 2021 French Open, making her the seventh player to win their first women's singles finals at both tournaments.

    Having pulled off three major shocks to get to the final, knocking out Danielle Collins, Jelena Ostapenko, and Elena Rybakina, Krejcikova appeared stunned when she finally got her hands on the trophy.

    "I don't have any words right now, it's just unbelievable. It's definitely the best day of my tennis career and also the best day of my life," Krejcikova said.

    "It's super difficult to explain what I'm feeling right now. I would like to congratulate Jasmine and her team. She had a great two weeks, it was a great final, and we were fighting for every point.

    "I think nobody believes that I got to the final and nobody believes that I won Wimbledon. I still can't believe it.

    "I didn't really have a good beginning to the season. It's unbelievable I'm stood here now, and I've won Wimbledon. I have no idea [how it happened]."

    Following her win over Rybakina in the semi-final, Krejcikova paid tribute to Jana Novotna, who passed away in 2017 from ovarian cancer at the age of 49.

    She first met the 1998 Wimbledon winner 10 years ago, and has now emulated her former mentor's achievements.

    "I think that day, knocking on her door, it changed my life," an emotional Krejcikova added. "Because in that period when I finished the juniors, I didn’t know what to do – should I continue playing pro or go into education?

    "She was the one who told me I had the potential, and I should definitely turn pro. Before she passed away, she told me I can win a slam.

    "I achieved that in Paris in 2021 – it was an unbelievable moment for me, and I never really dreamed I would win the same trophy as Jana did in 1998."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.