Novak Djokovic might have claimed his 17th Grand Slam title on Sunday, but the Serbian is not about to relent in his pursuit of more history.
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) February 2, 2020
Djokovic fought back from two sets to one down to score a 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Dominic Thiem, winning a record-extending eighth Australian Open title, and a 17th Grand Slam crown.
The Serbian is now just three major titles behind great rival, Roger Federer, who heads the all-time list with 20 Slams, and two behind second-placed Rafael Nadal, who is in 19 majors.
Djokovic has spoken a lot about how he’s been pushed to greater heights by his big rivals, Nadal and Federer, and having got this close to them, the Serbian isn’t ready to rest on his oars.
“What I can do to still improve? There are many things on the tennis court that I can still improve”, Djokovic said after his Australian Open success.
“That excites me and motivates me to go day in, day out with my commitments, with my practice sessions, because there’s always something to work on, there are always more trophies to win”
It’s been the perfect start to the season for Djokovic, who is now 13-0 in singles matches in 2020. The 32-year-old won all six singles matches in the ATP Cup as he inspired Serbia to success at the inaugural team tournament, and he’s now backed it up with victory in Melbourne.
With his latest Australian Open triumph, Djokovic will regain the world No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal, starting from Monday, 3rd February.
“I’ve had that privilege to win this big tournament for eight times. To start off the season with a Grand Slam win significantly boosts your confidence and your expectations are quite high for the rest of the season. But whatever happens, this season is already successful.”
When Djokovic officially takes over the No. 1 ranking on Monday, it will be his fifth stint at the zenith of the men’s game, and his 276th week as the No. 1 player in the world. That puts him just 10 weeks behind Pete Sampras (286 weeks), and 34 behind all-time leader, Federer, who owns the record at 310 weeks.
Should Djokovic remain at No. 1 through the next few months, he is projected to move past Sampras on 20 April, and go beyond Federer to set a new mark on 5 October.
Djokovic has again reiterated that Grand Slams and the No. 1 ranking remain his priority, and his Australian Open success has put him on course for what could be another historic season.
“Grand Slams are one of the main reasons why I am still competing and still playing a full season, trying to obviously get the historic No. 1. That’s the other big goal. I put myself in this position that is really good at the moment. I’m super happy with the way I started the season. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the year”
Djokovic entered Sunday’s Australian Open final against Dominic Thiem with a perfect 7-0 record in championship matches in Melbourne, but that record was put under severe threat by the powerful Thiem.
After dropping the opening set, Thiem powered back to take a two sets to one lead, and looked the likelier man to claim the title at the end of the third set. Djokovic appeared deflated and out of energy, and went off the court at the conclusion of the set.
However, he was reenergized on the return, and slowly by surely, he began to squeeze the pedal, and eventually wrestled control away from his opponent.
“After I lost the second set, I start to feel really bad on the court. My energy dropped significantly. To be honest, I don’t still understand the reason why that has happened because I’ve been doing the things that I’ve been doing before all of my matches. I was hydrated well and everything. Apparently doctor said I wasn’t hydrated enough,” Djokovic said.
“[I] regained my energy and strength midway in the fourth set and got back into the match. I was on the brink of losing the match”.
Djokovic weathered that Thiem storm like only he can, yet again displaying his vaunted powers of recovery as he battled through adversity to secure yet another famous triumph.