Novak Djokovic says he is “emotionally devastated” after winning the Australian Open



CNN

For nearly two decades, we’ve grown accustomed to Novak Djokovic winning grand slams. But it was a first to see the world No. 1 crying on the floor as he celebrated his Australian Open win with his family and team. She later said she was an “emotional wreck”.

Sunday’s straight sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne was historic. It was his 10th Australian Open, making Djokovic the second man to win more than 10 titles in a single Slam, and his 22nd Grand Slam, which he currently shares with Rafael Nadal, the men’s major victories record. The win also returned him to the world No. 1 spot for a record 374th week.

Even as he returned to his seat on the court to hand over the trophy, Djokovic covered his face with a towel as television cameras picked up the sound of his sobs.

But speaking to reporters after his victory, he explained that the outpouring of emotion was not just a reaction to what he had achieved, but a response to what he had to deal with over the last few weeks.

The 35-year-old said at his press conference: “Obviously, when I got into the box, when I hugged them, I broke down emotionally, I think I cried especially with my mom and my brother. At that time, I didn’t allow myself to be distracted by things off the court or things that were going on while dealing with injuries, things that were going on off the court that could easily distract me from my focus, my game.

“It really took a lot of mental energy to be present, stay focused, take things day by day and see how far I could go.”

Last year, Djokovic was unable to defend his title after being deported from the country due to his Covid-19 vaccination status. This year at Melbourne Park, he suffered a hamstring injury and had to cancel his father Srdjan’s Australian Open shoot with a crowd of Russian supporters, which Djokovic said “requires a lot of mental and emotional energy” to focus on tennis.

His father was not in the players’ box for the final, a situation Djokovic said saddened them both.

“I thought things would calm down in the media and everything, but they didn’t,” the Serb said.

“We both agreed that it would be better if he wasn’t there. It hurts both me and him, because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if it will happen again.

“So it was not easy for him. I saw him after the match, of course. Yes, let’s say that he hugged me and, of course, was very happy about everything, but he did not feel well.

“I could see he was a bit down. See, this is it. I think what he told me at the end was that it’s important that I feel good on the court, that I win the match and that he’s here for me.

“If it’s better for me as a result of the match that he doesn’t stay in the box, then so be it. That’s how the story went.

“On the one hand, I am also sad that he was not in the stands. But he was there for the whole tournament, so that’s fine. We finally have a happy ending.”

Djokovic said his injury meant he was not optimistic going into the Australian Open, the first grand slam of the year, saying “it’s about surviving each match and trying to make it to the next round”.

His coach, Goran Ivanisevic, told reporters that Djokovic has “77 therapies a day” to try to heal the hamstring problem that has put his participation in doubt.

“Let me put it this way. I don’t think 100%, but 97% of the players will go straight to the refs office and be out of the tournament when they get their MRI results on Saturday. But not him,” said Ivanishevich.

“He came from another space. His brain works differently. I’ve been with him for four years, but sometimes that’s how his brain works. He gave everything. 77 treatments per day. Each day was better and better. I didn’t expect that. To be honest, I’m surprised.”

At this year's Australian Open, Djokovic dropped one set.

From the fourth round, Djokovic said, his legs started to feel better and he started playing his best tennis.

Djokovic, who is now tied with Nadal on the men’s all-time list of grand slams, said he was “motivated to win as many Slams as possible”.

“I don’t want to stop here. “I have no intention of stopping here,” he said. “I feel good about my tennis. I know that when I feel good physically and mentally, I have the ability to take any shot against anyone.

“I don’t know how many more years I’ll play or how many more Slams I’ll play. It depends on various things. It’s not just about my body.

“I think for me, of course, the first priority is to have support and love from people close to me, and to have a balance with my personal life and play, but also to have clarity of mind. or – how should I say it – the pursuit of these trophies.

“Physically, I can handle myself well. Of course, 35 is not 25, as much as I would like to believe. But I think there is still time ahead. Let’s see how far I can go.”

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