Djokovic: 'I Don't Have Intentions To Stop Here'
Novak Djokovic made history once again Sunday when he clinched a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. The Serbian produced a ruthless display to overcome Stefanos Tsitsipas, rising to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time since June with his victory.
Following his record-extending 10th Australian Open crown, the 35-year-old revealed that the fire to achieve more burns as bright as ever.
“I am motivated to win as many Slams as possible. At this stage of my career, these trophies are the biggest motivational factor of why I still compete,” said Djokovic, who moved level with Rafael Nadal on 22 majors. “I never really liked comparing myself to others, but of course it's a privilege to be part of the discussion as one of the greatest players of all time. If people see me this way, of course it's very flattering because I know that I give as much effort and energy into trying to win slams as anybody else.
“I still have lots of motivation. Let's see how far it takes me. I really don't want to stop here. I don't have intentions to stop here. I feel great about my tennis. I know that when I'm feeling good physically, mentally present, I have a chance to win any Slam against anybody.
“Physically I can keep myself fit. Of course, 35 is not 25, even though I want to believe it is. But I still feel there is time ahead of me. Let's see how far I go.”
Djokovic's Message To The Fans:
Our AO Champion 💙 🏆@australianopen | #AusOpen | @DjokerNole pic.twitter.com/gPQPCihzpV— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 29, 2023
The Serbian captured his maiden Australian Open title aged 20 in 2008 before he rose to No. 1 for the first time in July 2011. More than a decade later and Djokovic remains a dominant force, with the 35-year-old proud of the work he and his team have put in to enable him to stay at the top.
“I nurture and celebrate these moments of becoming No. 1 again and Grand Slam champion even more than I have maybe ever in my career. I don't take it for granted,” Djokovic said.
“It's just so fresh. I just came off the court. Of course, I have to reflect and sleep over a few nights and just realise what I've been through with my team. Of course, it makes me incredibly proud, but it also is a huge relief because it hasn't been smooth sailing, so to say, on and off the court in the last three to four weeks.”
Djokovic entered the hard-court major with a left hamstring injury that he sustained en route to winning his 92nd tour-level title in Adelaide earlier this month. Having struggled throughout his opening three rounds, the Serbian’s title chances in Melbourne looked threatened.
However, he improved physically in the latter stages to triumph.
“If I turn back the time two and a half weeks ago, I wasn't really liking my chance in this tournament with the way I felt with my leg,” Djokovic said. “Then it was just a matter of survival every single match, trying to take it to the next round.
“The good thing about the Grand Slam here is that you have a day between the matches, so it allowed me to have more time than normal [at] some other tournaments to recover, to try to do all the treatments in order to get myself in somewhat of a good state and condition to play and eventually win.
“From [the] fourth round onwards, I felt the leg was not bothering me as much. I felt my movement was much better. I played some of my best tennis honestly in [this] Australian Open. The fourth round, quarter-final, semi-finals, just really comfortable on the court, hitting the ball great."
With Sunday’s win, Djokovic improved to 11-2 in his ATP Head2Head series against Tsitsipas, having also defeated the 24-year-old Greek in the Roland Garros final in 2021. Following his 12th win of the season, an emotional Djokovic climbed into his box, where he embraced coach Goran Invanisevic and the rest of his team.
“It [was] just a huge pride and satisfaction that I feel at the moment,” Djokovic said. “Of course, when I went into my box, I just think emotionally collapsed there and teared up with my mother and my brother, when I gave them a hug. Because up to that moment I was not allowing myself to be distracted with things off the court or whatever was happening in dealing with an injury, things happening off the court, as well, that could easily have been a big disturbance to my focus, to my game.
“It required an enormous mental energy really to stay present, to stay focused, to take things day by day, and really see how far I can go.”