Novak Djokovic described his latest Australian Open triumph as "probably the biggest victory of my life" as he put last year's adversity behind him to win the title for a 10th time.

The Serbian defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday to draw level with Rafael Nadal on 22 grand slam crowns – a joint-record for male players.

Djokovic dropped just one set across his seven matches in a dominant display down under, coming a year on from being deported from the country ahead of the 2022 edition.

He was denied the opportunity to defend his title following a row over his COVID-19 vaccination status, which also saw him banned from entering the country until 2025.

However, he had his visa ban overturned in November and made up for lost time, with his straight-sets win against Tsitsipas also seeing him regain the world number one spot.

Djokovic broke down in tears after sealing victory in a little under three hours and then gave an emotional speech in his on-court interview.

"This has been one of the most challenging tournaments I have ever played in my life considering the circumstances, not playing last year, coming back this year," he said.

"I want to thank all the people who made me feel welcome, made me feel comfortable to be in Melbourne and to be in Australia. 

"There is a reason why I have played my best tennis throughout my career in this arena. I try to pinch myself and really live through these moments. 

"It's a long journey. Only the team and the family knows what we have been through in the last four or five weeks.

"I would say this is probably the biggest victory of my life, considering those circumstances. Thank you so much – and hopefully see you next year."

 

Djokovic landed his first Australian Open title 15 years ago and has now won 28 matches in a row at his favourite tournament.

At 35 years, he is the third-oldest male in the Open Era to win the Australian Open singles title after Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer, another of his long-time rivals.

Tsitsipas labelled his opponent as the greatest of all time after the match, and Djokovic also had some kind words to share as he backed the Greek to challenge in more majors.

"Thanks so much for being so kind and respectful," Djokovic said. "On the court we are fierce competitors, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't respect each other.

"I congratulate you on an amazing tournament. Tough luck tonight. This will not be your last grand slam final, you have a lot of time. 

"You are one of the most professional players I know on the tour, and one of the most interesting."

Djokovic, whose 93 ATP titles is the fourth most of any male in the Open Era, added: "I'd like to finish off by commenting something on Greece and Serbia. 

"We are two relatively small countries that don't really have a tennis tradition. We didn't really have players to look up to.

"I think the message for any young tennis player around the world watching this now, dreaming to be where we are now, dream big. Anything is possible. 

"Don't let anyone take away the dream. It doesn't matter where you're coming from. I think the more disadvantaged a childhood you have, the stronger you become.

"We are the proof of that. Don't let anybody take that dream away from you. Water it like you would water the flowers. 

"Even if you can only find one person in the world that supports you, dream big and you can make it."

A year after hitting an all-time low when he lost a court battle in Melbourne, Novak Djokovic was back on top of the world and in floods of tears as he celebrated a record-equalling grand slam triumph on Sunday.

Djokovic endured a nightmare start to 2022 when he was deported from Australia for breaching border entry rules, having arrived in the country believing he had a valid medical exemption that would enable him to play in the first major of the year without being vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Serbian superstar suffered the humiliation of flying home after his visa was cancelled and he failed with an appeal in a Federal Court.

He had been consigned to the Park Hotel immigration detention facility during a miserable short stay in a country where he loves playing the most and has experienced unprecedented success.

Djokovic will head home with very different emotions this time around after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets to match Rafael Nadal's tally of 22 major singles titles for a male player.

The 35-year-old was also unable to play in the US Open last September due to not being vaccinated, but normal service was resumed as he claimed a record-extending 10th Australian Open title with a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) triumph.

Djokovic could do nothing to prevent Nadal from lifting the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup 12 months ago, but nothing was going to stop him getting his hands on the trophy on Sunday.

Tsitsipas put up a courageous fight, but one of the all-time greats was a cut above as he continued his astonishing domination of the first major of the year.

Not since Hyeon Chung produced a huge fourth-round upset in 2018 has the Belgrade native been beaten in the Australian Open, this victory extending his winning streak in Melbourne to a staggering 28 matches.

Tsitsipas, 11 years younger than his legendary opponent, declared he was physically and mentally ready for the huge challenge of facing Djokovic in his first Australian Open final.

The third seed from Greece led Djokovic by two sets in his only other major final, but was consigned to defeat in a 2021 French Open thriller.

There was no such drama on this occasion, as the favourite maintained his perfect record in Australian Open finals 15 years after he was first crowned champion at Melbourne Park.

He served brilliantly, once again demonstrated why he is widely regarded as the best returner of all time, and showed no signs of a hamstring injury that was probably the only thing that would have stopped him from securing yet another title.

Djokovic had to contend with questions about his father, Srdjan, posing with a group of men waving Russian flags that have been banned from the grounds during this tournament earlier this week but nothing was going to distract him in his quest to make history.

He was clinical and drowned out noise from rowdy spectators that were ticked off by the chair umpire time and again as he won another battle between youth and experience.

There were 36 winners from king of Rod Laver Arena and only 22 unforced errors, while he ruthlessly took charge of the tie-breaks as Tsitsipas was made to pay for mistakes at such key moments.

Fourth seed Djokovic orchestrated the crowd with his racket after earning two match points and his emotions came out after he climbed up to his box, where he was mobbed by his team.

He sobbed during a long embrace with his mother, Dijana, and dropped to the floor a year after he was floored by being unable to play in a tournament where he has taken on all comers.

Djokovic described this as his biggest victory given what he has had to endure and it lifted him back to the top of the rankings.

It was the 93rd ATP Tour title of his career and came on the back of winning a tournament in Adelaide in a dream start to 2023.

Twelve months after he detained, his rivals were unable to contain him and it would be a surprise if he has not moved beyond Nadal's tally of grand slam triumphs by the end of year.

Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in Sunday's final to land a record-extending 10th Australian Open title and draw level with Rafael Nadal on 22 grand slams.

The 35-year-old resisted a fightback from Tsitsipas by saving a set point in the second set on his way to a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) victory at Rod Laver Arena as he made it 10 wins from 10 Melbourne finals.

Djokovic, who was blocked from defending his crown last year after being deported from the country over his COVID-19 vaccination status, dropped just one set across his seven matches and has now won 28 matches in a row in his favourite tournament.

The Serbian consequently reclaims the world number one spot, as well as equalling Nadal for the most singles slams won by a male player.

 

Tsitsipas was aiming to become the 27th male singles champion in the opening major of the year, but he was under relentless pressure right from the off and a double fault in the fourth game handed his opponent the first break of serve.

Djokovic, backed by a crowd that occasionally became too vociferous amid warnings from the umpire, served out the opening set with relative ease and continued to trouble Tsitsipas with some strong serving in the second set.

World number four Tsitsipas slowly grew in confidence and, after a string of unforced errors from Djokovic – who exchanged some strong words with coach Goran Ivanisevic – he forced set point.

But an excellent forehand winner from Djokovic prevented Tsitsipas from levelling up the match, and the Serbian went on to edge the tie-break in what was a big moment in the contest.

He had the occasional blip, with Tsitsipas earning his first break of serve in the opening game of the third set, but Djokovic responded instantly with another backhand winner to level up.

There was little to separate the two in the next 10 games as another set went the distance, and once again it was Djokovic who held his nerve in an entertaining tie-break to wrap up the victory in a time of two hours and 56 minutes.

Novak Djokovic was sitting at home at this time last year, tapping out messages of congratulations to the Australian Open champions, no doubt sick to the stomach.

On Sunday in Melbourne, he can complete the journey from outcast to conquering hero, as he faces Stefanos Tsitsipas for the men's singles title at his favourite grand slam.

There are no bankers in tennis – aside from those in the posh seats – but Djokovic has won nine out of nine previous Australian Open finals, and his last nine matches against Tsitsipas.

He is in scintillating form and the hamstring pull that was seemingly troubling him earlier in the fortnight no longer seems a factor, so a Djokovic triumph seems at the very least a probable outcome.

On the line for the Serbian will be a 10th Australian Open title, a record-tying 22nd men's singles grand slam, and the not-so-small matter of the world number one ranking.

Across the net, Tsitsipas is seeking a first major, but he can also vault to number one should he lift the trophy. Tsitsipas and Djokovic have met in a slam final before, but both men have bizarrely claimed to have forgotten all about it.

Djokovic has played so many major finals that perhaps he might have briefly put the 2021 French Open title match out of his mind. For Tsitsipas, however, the message is hard to believe. He lost from two sets up that day, in what was his only final at any of the four majors up to now.

Of course Tsitsipas has no interest in talking about such a personally dark day, and instead his message is that he feels "very optimistic" about this latest opportunity.

Yet Djokovic has been steamrollering opponents, and his latest mission is almost complete. At the age of 35, this would go down as one of his finest grand slam triumphs.

But has this been a revenge mission? Does Djokovic still feel slighted for what happened last year, when the Australian government, led by then Prime Minister Scott Morrison, had him deported amid an almighty vaccination hullabaloo.

Morrison is no longer in that top office, and the Park Hotel immigration detention facility where Djokovic was kept 12 months ago released its last refugees in April.

Those visiting Australia do not have to provide proof of vaccination any more, or a medical exemption. This is a strikingly different Australia to last year, and Djokovic might cut loose with thoughts about his previous treatment after Sunday's final. He said earlier this month he felt he had been turned into a "villain of the world", but his message has been a calmer one in recent days.

For now, he is not getting into how being kicked around like a political football truly felt.

"Honestly, I'm over it," Djokovic said on Friday. "Once I came into Australia, my intentions were always very positive to come back. Of course, the feelings of coming back to Australia this year were different than any other year because of the events of last year.

"I said many times that I don't hold any grudges, that I just love playing in Australia, love being here. That kind of emotion helped me to feel comfortable and to play well. I won Adelaide, now I'm in the finals of the Australian Open. I haven't lost a match in last five weeks in Australia."

He also has bad news for those rivals hoping he joins Roger Federer in retirement soon.

Rafael Nadal, last year's Australian Open champion, is another who might be nearing the end, and it is his record of 22 slams that Djokovic is targeting on Sunday. But Djokovic is playing the tennis of a much younger man, and he is determined to not only break the men's slam record but obliterate it, while wrestling with the emotions that tennis brings out of him.

Djokovic said: "When we're on the tennis court in the midst of a battle, some of the things surface, and I have to deal with it. So it's a great school of life for me.

"Then at the same time I have professional goals and ambitions. Those are grand slams and being number one in the world. Those two probably pinnacles of the professional tennis world have always been there as goals for me. So I do want to make more history of this sport, no doubt.

"I feel game-wise physically I still can sustain and maintain the top level. So as long as that's the case, why not keep going?

"I don't know when the end is going to happen in terms of my professional career. Right now I have the motivation, I have the support of my close ones, which is also something that is probably underestimated and not maybe talked about a lot, but it's a key, especially as a father."

Overall, Djokovic holds a 10-2 record against Tsitsipas, having lost two of their first three meetings. The 10 defeats are the most Tsitsipas has suffered against any player, and this final will mark his 350th career match against a top-10 players.

That is a record in itself, and Djokovic holds a 69.3 per cent win rate in such matches, whereas Tsitsipas has only a 44.3 per cent winning record against players with a top-10 ranking.

Tsitsipas, at 24, is the youngest men's singles Australian Open finalist since Djokovic and Andy Murray, both 23 at the time, contested the 2011 final, and he could become the fifth to take the title before turning 25 in the 21st century, after Federer, Marat Safin, Djokovic and Nadal.

However, Tsitsipas has lost his last three ATP-level finals, and his last six on hard courts, so that does not bode well at all.

Not that the Greek will let such numbers worry him, and perhaps he has forgotten those defeats too.

"I'm playing great tennis. I'm enjoying myself," said Tsitsipas. "I just see no downside or negativity in what I'm trying to do out there. Even if it doesn't work, I'm very optimistic and positive about any outcome, any opponent that I have to face.

"This is something that has been sort of lacking in my game. I genuinely believe in what I'm able to produce. That is more than enough. I go about this way. I strive for it every single day. It might not go the way I want it to, but I put 110 per cent out there."

Aryna Sabalenka's comeback in the Australian Open final sent her into the grand slam record books. 

Sabalenka beat last year's Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 4-6 6-3 6-4 in Melbourne on Saturday.

That saw the fifth seed clinch her maiden grand slam title, and become the fifth woman in the Open Era to achieve the feat via a comeback in the final.

Sabalenka joined Nancy Richy, Jelena Ostapenko, Sofia Kenin and, ironically, Rybakina on that list.

The Belarusian hit 17 aces against Rybakina, trailing only Serena Williams (18 against Maria Sharapova in the 2015 final) for the highest amount of aces in a women's singles showpiece match at Melbourne Park.

Sabalenka has now won the title in three of the four tournaments in which she has faced Rybakina (Wuhan 2019, Abu Dhabi 2021 and the Australian Open 2023).

She is the 29th different woman in the Open Era to secure the title at the Australian Open and the 58th women's player in the Open Era to win a major.

Aryna Sabalenka says becoming world number one is the next target on her list after beating Elena Rybakina in Saturday's Australian Open final to win her first grand slam.

The 24-year-old recovered from behind at Rod Laver Arena to beat reigning Wimbledon champion Rybakina 4-6 6-3 6-4 and become the 58th different women's player to win a major in the Open Era. 

Having previously fallen short in three semi-finals, Sabalenka became the fifth female player in the Open Era to win her maiden grand slam final, with Rybakina being another.

After adding her name to an exclusive list, Sabalenka is now targeting the number one spot for the first time, which is held by Iga Swiatek.

"As I've said, we all have the same kind of goals," Sabalenka, set to move up to second in the updated rankings, said at her post-match press conference. "Winning a grand slam is not the last on my list."

Sabalenka, who described her performance as "the best of my life", has now won 23 matches in a row to start the 2023 season.

 

She made 17 aces against Rybakina, whom she is now 4-0 against in head-to-head encounters, with that bettered only by Serena Williams (18 versus Maria Sharapova in 2015) in the past 20 Australian Open women's finals.

And the Belarusian – competing under a neutral flag in Melbourne – puts her breakthrough grand slam triumph down to changing her mindset and becoming calmer on court.

"I always had this weird feeling that when people would come to me and ask for signature, I would be like, 'why are you asking for signature? I'm nobody. I'm a player. I don't have a grand slam' and all this stuff," she said.

"I just changed how I feel. I started respecting myself more. I started to understand that actually I'm here because I work so hard and I'm actually good player.

"Just having this understanding that I'm a good player, understanding I can handle a lot of emotions, a lot of things on court. Every time I had a tough moment on court, I was just reminding myself that I'm good enough to handle all this."

Rybakina defeated major champions Swiatek, Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka en route to the final, though she was unable to add to the Wimbledon crown she won in July.

The 22nd seed took the first set – the first Sabalenka has dropped this year – but her opponent's serve soon clicked into gear and Rybakina had no response.

"She served really well today no matter the double-faults," Rybakina said. "A few second serves she hit probably as a first serve.

"For sure it's not easy mentally. She didn't have great serve last year, but now she's super strong and she served well. I respect that. I know how much work it takes.

"I think Aryna raised her level in the second set. She played really well, aggressive, made fewer mistakes. I should have been more aggressive also in some moments.

"I had some chances to turn it around. But she played really well today. She was strong mentally and physically. Overall it was a good two weeks for me here."

As Saturday's Australian Open final pitted two of the most powerful players on the WTA Tour against one another, of course Russell Crowe was in Rod Laver Arena to see these modern gladiators do battle.

Much like Crowe's Hollywood epic, this encounter took two and a half hours to reach its conclusion. When it did, it was the brute strength and bravery of Aryna Sabalenka that made her a first-time grand slam champion.

Sabalenka, having so often fallen frustratingly short on the biggest stage, stuck to the principles that had carried her this far and was rewarded with a 4-6 6-3 6-4 defeat of Elena Rybakina.

A change has been noted in Sabalenka's manner in Melbourne, a calmer approach in difficult moments – and there were plenty against Rybakina.

Sabalenka had previously spoken of the need to be "boring" to win a major, but she argued ahead of this final: "I don't think it's that boring to watch me. I hope [not]. Just less negative emotions."

Are you not entertained? Crowe and the rest of the crowd watching this back-and-forth certainly were, chiefly due to Sabalenka's unrelenting aggression.

It was most evident on the second serve as Sabalenka repeatedly went after her opponent. Perhaps she felt she had no choice.

Rybakina had won a tournament-leading 73 points against the second serve prior to the final; easing up would have invited her own immense power into the equation.

Instead, Sabalenka's second serve averaged 149km/h. The result was only a 47 per cent success rate and seven double faults – but also the title.

Rybakina went in the opposite direction and, after a strong start, paid the price.

Her second serve was down at 136km/h and led to only a single double fault, yet Sabalenka, initially understandably nervous, grew into the match and won 23 return points against the second serve. She met Rybakina's uncharacteristically delicate touch with a hammer.

Rybakina's thinking had been set forth after her first night match of the tournament against Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals.

"Maybe I will not have to serve that big, that fast, so it doesn't really matter the speed," she explained. "It's important to have a good placement on the serve.

"In these conditions, to serve full, full power, it's not easy. The ball is not really going."

It still went at times in the final – a 195km/h serve matched any previously seen in Melbourne this year – but that placement was not there; landing only 59 per cent of her first serves in, Melbourne's ace queen allowed Sabalenka to become a little too familiar with this change of tack on second serve.

Having eliminated three major champions, including world number one Iga Swiatek, and last year's finalist en route to the showpiece match, it was undoubtedly a risk for Rybakina to alter her game with the title in sight.

She may well have thought it had paid off after taking the first set; although her three previous matches against Sabalenka had all gone to three sets, all had been lost after Rybakina dropped the opener.

But Sabalenka roared back, recovering from 15-40 in the opening game of the second and building from there.

Once the tide turned, it became increasingly unclear whether Rybakina was steadfastly sticking to her slower, supposedly more accurate method or had simply been sapped of her energy by the sublime force of Sabalenka, who racked up 51 winners.

It was ultimately the Belarusian – a first neutral champion – who succeeded in showing something different, her 11th win in succession to start the season seeing her drop a set for the first time yet still triumph.

As emotion overcame Sabalenka before she promised "even better tennis" in Australia next year, Rybakina was left with much to ponder.

Both women outlined their desire for "many more battles", and the Wimbledon champion might hope the conditions next time tee her up to take Sabalenka on at her own game.

Sabalenka is the opponent Rybakina has faced most often without winning; if this is to develop into the sort of rivalry women's tennis has not seen for some time, that is going to need to change.

Aryna Sabalenka vowed to have many more battles with the impressive Elena Rybakina after securing her first grand slam title at the Australian Open.

Belarusian Sabalenka was far from her best in the first set on Rod Laver Arena but made amends for her errant serving with a heavy-hitting showing to down Rybakina 4-6 6-3 6-4 on Saturday.

Victory over the 23-year-old marked Sabalenka's 11th straight win to start the 2023 season, dropping to her knees to celebrate after falling just short in previously reaching three major semi-finals.

World number five Sabalenka heaped praise on Rybakina, who had looked on course to back up her 2022 Wimbledon triumph, as she reflected on a maiden grand slam success.

"First of all, I want to say sorry for my English as I am still shaking and am super nervous," she said on court after her triumph.

"Secondly, it's such an inspiration to receive this trophy from you [Billie Jean King]. Thank you so much for everything you've done for our sport. I couldn't be more thankful.

"I want to congratulate Elena for an incredible two weeks. You are such a great player.

"I hope we have many more battles and hopefully [they will be] in the finals of grand slams.

"Congratulations to your team. You guys are amazing and have done such a good job.

"It was an amazing atmosphere. I hope next year I come back even stronger and I will show you all [the Australian fans] even better tennis."

Addressing her own team, Sabalenka added: "We've been through a lot of downs last year.

"We worked so hard and you guys deserve this trophy. This is more about you than about me. Thank you so much for everything you do for me. I love you guys."

 

Rybakina, the 22nd seed in Melbourne, defeated major champions Iga Swiatek, Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka en route to the final amid a scintillating run in Australia.

But she slipped to a fourth straight defeat in head-to-head clashes with Sabalenka.

"I would like to congratulate Aryna on the title and a great start to the season. I know how hard you and your team have worked for that," Rybakina said.

"Good luck for the rest of the season and hopefully we are going to have many more battles.

"I want to say a big thank you to my team for the great job we have done; to my family, coach and president of the Kazakhstan Federation, thank you so much for the support.

"I had goosebumps with this atmosphere and I am looking forward to coming back next year. Next year I hope to go one better."

Aryna Sabalenka claimed her first grand slam title after fighting back to down Elena Rybakina at the Australian Open on Saturday.

Sabalenka has won all 11 of her matches in 2023 after battling to a thrilling 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory over the Wimbledon champion.

Dropping the opener against Rybakina was the first time Sabalenka had lost a set this year.

After moving in front, Rybakina seemed on course to back up last year's major success with a hard-court victory in Melbourne, but fifth seed Sabalenka regained composure after a nervy start to win a gripping encounter.

Both players were impacted by the wind in the early stages with the roof open at the Rod Laver Arena, though Rybakina adapted the quicker to break and go 2-1 up as Sabalenka skewed a forehand wide.

Despite the Belarusian levelling at 4-4 with a powerful backhand, Sabalenka's errant serving proved costly as five double faults allowed Rybakina move ahead and serve out to take the lead.

The match sprung to life as Sabalenka's serve clicked into gear. Rybakina saved two set points but had no answer on the third as an emphatic ace ensured a decider would be required.

World number 25 Rybakina was then overpowered by Sabalenka's heavy-hitting forehand and, despite saving three break points prior, the latter snatched a vital opportunity to go 4-3 up and then move a game away from glory.

That break ultimately proved the difference but Sabalenka had to hold her nerve, with Rybakina making her serve it out.

Despite a double fault on her first championship point and then being unable to convert her next two, Sabalenka claimed the title on her fourth match point as her opponent's forehand went long, with the relief and emotion pouring out as she dropped to the ground.

Data slam: Sabalenka rewarded for grand slam consistency

Sabalenka became the 58th different female player in the Open Era to secure a grand slam title after overcoming the 57th major champion Rybakina, who lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 2022.

In the last two seasons, only Iga Swiatek (24) and Jessica Pegula (18) have won more grand slam main-draw matches than Sabalenka (17) as the 24-year-old tasted her first major success, having made it as far as the semi-finals in three previous majors.

Novak Djokovic insists his father did not intend to pose for pictures with supporters of Vladimir Putin and is hoping he will be able to attend Sunday's Australian Open final.

Srdjan Djokovic was not present at Rod Laver Arena for his son's 7-5 6-1 6-2 win over Tommy Paul on Friday, which set up a final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 62-year-old announced in a statement ahead of the match that he was staying away to avoid creating any "disruption for my son or for the other player".

It comes on the back of Srdjan being pictured standing next to a Russian flag with Putin's face on it, and a man whose t-shirt indicated support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

But Novak, who is chasing a 10th grand slam title in Australia and a record-equalling 22nd men's singles major overall, believes the situation has been taken out of context.

"There was no intention," Djokovic said after beating Paul. "You're basically asking me a question like he did it intentionally, like he's not being careful about what he's doing. 

"It can happen to many people what happened to him. He was passing through, made a photo, it has escalated. He was misused in this situation by this group of people. 

"That's what happened. I can't be angry with him or upset because I can say it was not his fault. He went out to celebrate with my fans, and that's it. That's all that happened. 

"After that, of course he felt bad because of me and he knew how that's going to reflect on me, the whole media pressure and everything that's happened in the last 48 hours.

"But it is what it is. You accept it and you move on."

Elaborating on the incident, he said: "The photo that he made, he was passing through. I heard what he said in the video. He said 'cheers'. 

"Unfortunately some of the media has interpreted that in a really wrong way. I'm sorry that that has escalated so much. 

"But I hope people understand that there was absolutely no intention whatsoever to support any kind of war initiatives or anything like that.

"There was a lot of Serbian flags around. That's what he thought. He thought he was making photo with somebody from Serbia. That's it. He moved on."

Asked if he expects his father to be back in the stadium for Sunday's final, Djokovic said: "Let's see. It wasn't pleasant not to have him in the box today. 

"It's a decision that we made together. We just didn't know how things would play out, I guess.

"But yeah, I hope to have him [there for the final]. I hope he's going to be feeling okay to be in the courts because I would like to have him there for the final."

Djokovic argued with the umpire and appeared to completely lose focus as he let a 5-1 lead slip in the opening set, but he responded well en route to a straight-sets victory.

And the Serbian, who has still never lost either a semi-final or a final at the first major of the season, admitted the controversy surrounding his father impacted his performance.

"I saw, as everybody else saw, what happened yesterday," he said. "It was unfortunate that the misinterpretation of what happened yesterday has escalated to such a high level. 

"There was, I would say, a lot of conversations with tournament director, with media and everyone else. It has got to me, of course, as well. I was not aware of it until last night. 

"My father, my whole family, and myself, have been through several wars during the 90s. As my father said, we are against the war, we never will support any violence or any war. 

"We know how devastating that is for the family, for people in any country that is going through the war."

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."

Novak Djokovic will play his 33rd grand slam final on Sunday, extending his men's Open Era record and edging closer to Chris Evert's leading mark across all singles players.

Djokovic beat Tommy Paul at the Australian Open on Friday to advance to a 10th Melbourne final, having won each of the prior nine.

The Serbian has also played nine title matches at the US Open, eight at Wimbledon and six at the French Open.

Even before this latest semi-final success, his tally of 32 major men's singles finals was unmatched in the Open Era.

But the 33rd saw Djokovic match Serena Williams in second place among both male and female players, with only Evert out ahead now on 34.

Djokovic will no doubt back himself to reach and perhaps pass that record before the year is out, with Roger Federer having retired and Rafael Nadal injured again – those two great rivals no longer keeping pace with the 21-time slam champion. A 22nd success on Sunday would equal Nadal's record.

With victory over Paul, Djokovic joined Federer and Nadal as the only male players in the Open Era to reach 10 or more finals at one major.

Federer went to 12 Wimbledon finals, while Nadal has played the title match at Roland Garros on 14 occasions.

Novak Djokovic limped into his 10th Australian Open final with a record-breaking 27th consecutive win in Melbourne against Tommy Paul on Friday.

Djokovic, who has never lost either a semi-final or a final at the first major of the season, came through 7-5 6-1 6-2 to eclipse the Andre Agassi win streak he had tied with a last-eight defeat of Andrey Rublev.

Despite a similar scoreline, however, this was not quite as straightforward as that prior match – particularly in a first set the nine-time champion threatened to throw away.

Djokovic also appeared to be suffering again with the hamstring injury that hampered his preparation for the tournament, but he now needs to come through just one more match, against Stefanos Tsitsipas, to add another title.

The semi ended as it started, with Djokovic in control, yet there was a blip when he looked to be coasting through the opener.

Having just passed up his first set point, Djokovic confronted the umpire when he was not allowed time to take a towel and appeared to lose his focus, allowing Paul to win the next seven points en route to consecutive breaks – the second clinched with a stunning 30-stroke rally.

Finally, with the set level, Djokovic regained some composure and soon enough took a long-awaited second set point before cupping his ear to the Melbourne crowd and being greeted with jeers in return.

It quickly became clear Paul had missed his chance as Djokovic cruised, his primary foe now that troublesome injury.

After stretching out his leg during the first-set collapse, the Serbian appeared in discomfort throughout a dominant second, asking for ice at 5-0 up ahead of Paul's sole hold in the set.

That ailment did not prove enough to derail Djokovic, though, as the third set followed a similar theme in an ultimately commanding semi success.

Data Slam: Djokovic closing on career-best streak

Now the sole owner of the longest Open Era winning streak in the main draw of the men's singles tournament at the Australian Open, Djokovic will match his best run at any grand slam if he beats Tsitsipas, having claimed 28 straight victories at Wimbledon.

Only Roger Federer (40 at the US Open and 40 at Wimbledon) and Bjorn Borg (41 at Wimbledon and 28 at the French Open) have previously had 27-match win sequences at two different majors.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 12/5
Paul – 4/0

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 31/39
Paul – 18/32

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 7/11
Paul – 2/9

Stefanos Tsitsipas always felt he had the "ego" to be challenging for grand slams and the world number one ranking after booking his spot in the Australian Open final.

The Greek defeated Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena and will now face either nine-time Melbourne champion Novak Djokovic or Tommy Paul in Sunday's showpiece.

It marks Tsitsipas' second run to a slam final after he was beaten by Djokovic at the French Open in 2021, a match in which he surrendered a two-set lead.

Victory would not only see him win a maiden slam but take ownership of the men's world number one ranking, two ambitions Tsitsipas always believed he could achieve.

"I remember watching it on TV saying to myself, 'I want to be there one day myself. I want to recreate that feeling for me'," he said.

"I knew that's a very long journey to get there. There are certain steps you have to take to give yourself the chance to be competing for something like this.

"But I very much believed it. First of all, it's your ego that speaks. You either have it or not. As a kid, I was very confident. 

"Thank God I was good in my country. Starting from that, I knew if I'm able to get out of my country and compete in other countries, European leagues, European tours, I proved myself over and over again that I'm actually good. 

"I did finish as a junior number one. Now I want to do it in the men's side, in the men's professional tennis."

Asked what had changed since losing to Djokovic in the final at Roland Garros almost two years ago, Tsitsipas said: "I'm playing great tennis. I'm enjoying myself. I just see no downside or negativity in what I'm trying to do out there. Even if it doesn't work, I'm very optimistic and positive about any outcome, any opponent that I have to face.

"This is something that has been sort of lacking in my game. I genuinely believe in what I'm able to produce. That is more than enough. I go about this way. I strive for it every single day. It might not go the way I want it to, but I put 110 per cent out there."

Khachanov has enjoyed back-to-back slam semi-finals having also made the last four at last year's US Open.

The 26-year-old retains belief that he can beyond the semis at future slams.

"Maybe in some situations I could do better. It's always like this. Tennis is always, like any other sport, there is no draw unfortunately in our sport. One guy has to win and to go through," he said.

"I would say I did it second time in a row, consecutive semi-finals. I would definitely go with my head high. Again, rest a couple of days, think with my team for next schedule, again to have a team meeting to discuss those particular situations and moments on what we need to work.

"Hopefully I keep believing that I can pass this step next time, if I am in this situation, hopefully. That's it."

Stefanos Tsitsipas will get a chance to play for his first grand slam title after advancing past Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 in Friday's semi-final.

Tsitsipas was at his aggressive best, compiling a massive 66 winners to go with his 18 aces. It was his highest winner tally of the tournament so far, eclipsing his 48 in five sets against Jannik Sinner, and his 46 in three sets against Quentin Halys.

Despite his high level of play, the first set was closely contested as both players secured a pair of breaks, but Tsitsipas was able to rattle off five consecutive points in the tiebreaker to run away with the opener.

The world number four did not allow Khachanov a single break-point opportunity in a stylish second set, and it was the same story in the third until Khachanov crucially took his one break-point chance as Tsitsipas was serving for the match.

Khachanov showed guts to fight off two match points and take the third in a tiebreaker, but he was just delaying the inevitable as Tsitsipas racked up 17 winners to five and made the fourth set the shortest of the match.

Tsitsipas will face the winner between Novak Djokovic and Tommy Paul in the final, with a chance to become Greece's first grand slam champion at the age of 24.

Data Slam: Tsitsipas conquers his demons down under

It was the fourth time Tsitsipas had reached the final four of the Australian Open, but after failures in 2019, 2021 and 2022, the Greek finally got over the line against his Russian challenger.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Tsitsipas – 18/5

Khachanov – 10/1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Tsitsipas – 66/34

Khachanov – 46/32

BREAK POINTS WON

Tsitsipas – 5/12

Khachanov – 3/4

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