Novak Djokovic: Australian Open champion vows to return to Melbourne so long as he can carry on competing with the best | Tennis News

Novak Djokovic: Australian Open champion vows to return to Melbourne so long as he can carry on competing with the best | Tennis News

Novak Djokovic says he will continue to play at the Australian Open as long as he can “play at the highest level and be one of the contenders to win the Slam”.

Djokovic’s victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday earned him a 10th Australian Open title and propelled him to the top of the men’s all-time rankings with Rafael Nadal with 22 Grand Slam titles, with all paths now leading to the French Open in lead spring.

A triumphant Djokovic led the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup through the gardens of Melbourne’s Government House, adding another notch to the plus column for those who claim he’s the all-time greatest in the GOAT debate.

“I think the results speak for themselves enough about how I feel in Australia, how well I’ve played here over the past 15 years,” Djokovic said.

“In fact, it was exactly 15 years ago that I won my first Grand Slam here in Melbourne.

“I will always come back as long as I feel I can perform at the highest level and be one of the contenders to win the Slam.”

Image: Djokovic celebrates with his team including his mother Dijana (second from left) and his coach Goran Ivanisevic

Despite a hamstring injury that left him fearing for his chances, Djokovic dropped just one set at Melbourne Park and felt like he was playing some of his best tennis games.

At 35, he shows no signs of slowing down and is back at No. 1 in the world rankings after overtaking Carlos Alcaraz.

“I’m as tough a competitor as anyone else out there,” said Djokovic. “Whether it’s a Grand Slam or any other category of any event in the world, I’m doing my best. I don’t like to lose, I do everything I can to win every match I play and there’s still a lot of that fire in me that burns for the sport and for the competition.

“It allows me to push myself to my limits day after day after so many years of training.

“It’s not that interesting sometimes going through the same routines over and over again, but I know there’s always a bigger goal. A guiding star, so to speak, and this trophy is one of those guiding stars. That’s always something I want to achieve.”

I had to stay strong and not let external factors or disruptions distract me on my way to the title and of course after last year’s events when I returned to Australia I was curious and more nervous than usual about coming to Australia. You know, how will people welcome me, how will the reception be on and off the pitch? Overall it was a very positive experience and I am very grateful for that. Novak Djokovic on his return to Australia

How many Grand Slams could Djokovic reach in the end? Image: The Serb returned to world No. 1 with his victory in Melbourne

When asked how long he thinks Djokovic can fight for big titles, his coach Goran Ivanisevic said: “Definitely two, three years. The way he takes care of his body, the way he goes about everything, the food, it’s amazing. It’s unbelievable, the level.”

Former Wimbledon champion Ivanisevic described the 22-22 draw as “like a handball match” and he expects Djokovic and Nadal will again fend off Tsitsipas, Alcaraz and the other young pretenders in Paris.

“Speaking of young people, they’re here, it’s great for tennis, great for the future of tennis,” he said. “But you still have these two guys fighting. This was Novak’s home court and now we’re going to Rafa’s home court.

“Yes, they are coming – Alcaraz, amazing. Still, when Rafa steps on the pitch at the French Open, he is always my favorite to win the tournament.

“I said eight or nine years ago that Novak and Rafa will go over Roger (Federer). People looked at me strangely. But we’re 22-22. Two incredible competitors, two incredible tennis players, what they did for tennis .

“I’m honestly looking forward to them both being super healthy, then the fight is there. And with the young people who will try to find backdoors to sneak in and try to do something. But still these two people, they’re going to have the last word there.”

Perfect 10 for Djokovic

Djokovic has won 10 of the 20 Grand Slam events (50 percent) he has competed in since turning 30 in 2017 – four Australian Opens, four Wimbledon titles, a French Open and a US Open

The Serb seems to be improving with age, having lifted 12 out of a possible 40 major trophies (30 percent) in his 20s

His recent win at the Australian Open was particularly threatening as he lost just one set in the entire tournament despite suffering from hamstring problems

What happens next? Image: Djokovic (left) and Rafael Nadal could face a head-to-head battle for supremacy at Roland Garros

In the best-case scenario, Nadal could return for the next major tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami in March but may choose to stay off the courts until his preferred clay court. With the pair locked at 22 Grand Slams apiece, it opens up the delicious prospect of a head-to-head battle for absolute supremacy at the French Open, which begins on May 28.

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