Congrats to all the Novak Djokovic fans. He is without doubt the best player in tennis right now. Djokovic etched his name in the history book becoming the first player in the Open Era to win three straight Australian Open titles tonight after topping rival Andy Murray in four sets 67, 76, 63, 62.
Djokovic’s 21st straight win in Melbourne, the fourth of his career, gives him a career Slam haul of six, equaling Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg.
Early in the match it was Murray who led by a set and held break points in the second. Djokovic, who had won a five-set marathon a week ago over Stan Wawrinka on the same court, wouldn’t relent and fought his way back into the match.
Djokovic also gains revenge on Murray for the US Open defeat. He now leads the Scot 11-7 in their series. The 25-year-old’s also won 11 straight matches against his fellow Top 10ers.
With Davis Cup next weekend, Djokovic is planning to fly out of town in just a few hours to join his team in preparation. The Serb even handed out chocolates to the media gathered in his presser.
Here’s what Novak said after the 3-hour, 40-minute win:
Q. Last year you were in here about 4:00 in the morning. This is a good time to finish, I guess.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Relatively early (smiling).
Q. How hard was that match for you tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s hard. I mean, when you play one of your biggest rivals and somebody that is in the top form in finals of a Grand Slam, there is a lot to play for.
I think it went 2 hours, 20 minutes, the first two sets. I think that says enough about the intensity of the match.
I kind of expected that. I knew that it’s going to be physically very demanding, a lot of long rallies, so I needed to hang in there. I’ve done that. There was a few turning points in the match. Maybe one of them was the second game in the second set when I was Love 40 against the breeze. He missed a few shots. I managed have that crucial hold.
After that I felt just mentally a little bit lighter and more confident on the court than I’ve done in the first hour or so.
Q. Anything noticeably different you did from the US Open final to here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: All our matches in last three years have been decided in a very few points, so it’s really hard to say if I’ve done anything different.
Yeah, I tried to be more aggressive. So I went for my shots, especially in the third and fourth; came to the net quite often. I was quite successful in that percentage, so it worked well for me.
I needed to be the one who dictates the play, and I’m really glad that I’ve played my best.
Q. How does this compare with the others you’ve won, the feeling?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Every tournament, especially the major tournaments, is very special. So every win, of course also adding to that the history part, you know, winning it three in a row, it’s incredible. It’s very thrilling. I’m full of joy right now.
It’s going to give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, that’s for sure.
Q. You and Andy are two of the best returners in the game, but it took over 30 games in this match before anybody broke. Why do you think that was tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we both served well, I think. We were holding our service games quite comfortably.
I was serving better against him today in the first two sets than I’ve done in any of the match in the last two years. But I knew that he’s incredible returner and has that ability to make you play always an extra shot.
To be able to get a lot of free points on the serve was definitely a positive.
Q. Andre Agassi always played very well in this tournament. You got the trophy from him tonight. Is there something similar in your attitudes, styles, that means you tend to start the season in such terrific form?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Maybe the style of clothing that we had. He had many colors and I love colors, so on that regard maybe there is some similarities.
But, no, also he’s I think one of the players that changed the game not just the game itself, but also the way the people see it. He’s a legend of the sport, of course. He had so much success. He won everything: Gold medal, Olympic Games, Grand Slam, everything.
Also he made a huge impact on the sport by changing the style. He was I think one of the first baseline groundstroke players on the tour. Most of the players before him were playing serve and volley. That’s where the game started to change a bit and you could have more players winning the events from the baseline.
So it was obviously a big pleasure and honor for me to receive the trophy from him.
Q. Another major and another semifinal with three of the top four and two of the top four winning. Do you think the gap is closing at all or is the gap growing with the rest of the field?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think that’s a question that can be always asked. I don’t find a really great answer for that. As I was saying before, it is logical in a way to expect the top four players to be the main contenders to win the trophy.
But I never want to underestimate the rest of the field, the rest of the players, especially the ones in the top 10, the top 15. I was a few points away from losing the match against Wawrinka in the fourth round here. That says enough about the competitiveness of the sport and the quality that other players bring. And he’s around 15 in the world.
So it is possible. It is possible for them to make a breakthrough, to win against the top guys in major events. Tsonga, Del Potro, Ferrer, these guys have done it in the past. Berdych. It’s always a possibility.
But I guess the top four are the most dominant ones in last five years.
Q. What are your goals for the rest of the season? Is the French Open a priority for you now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Priority for me now is to enjoy this victory. In life, you know, you don’t get many of the opportunities to win Grand Slams. As a tennis player, that’s a pinnacle of the ambitions and of the success.
So I try to enjoy it for few days with the people I love the most, family, friends, and team.
And then after I turn to the rest of the season. It’s Davis Cup already coming up, indoors, clay courts, next weekend, so that’s going to be a lot of fun (smiling).
And then after that, obviously there is still four or five months till the French Open. Of course, I want to go all the way in French Open. I went to the finals last year and had a great match against Rafa, but he’s always the favorite on that surface and he’s the ultimate player to beat on clay.
But I think if I continue on playing well, stay healthy, I can have a chance.
Q. You had tough losses to Rafa and Roger and Andy in the last three Grand Slams coming in here. Going into today, any special motivation saying that you wanted another Grand Slam title?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: What more motivation you need than from this trophy? Just seeing it and reading the names of the winners in last 50, 100 years, it’s incredible. To be also mentioned in the history aspect, you know, and winning three in a row, it’s a huge achievement.
So I’m always motivated in every match that I play on. But of course Grand Slam finals are always bringing something new, something special to every player, and that’s where you want to perform your best.
Q. This final and last year were incredibly physical. Do you get a sense it’s taking stuff out of you or you’re just taking it in your stride?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, as somebody that has experiences playing on the big stage in Grand Slam finals, especially against the top guys, I expected that to happen.
I tried to use that necessary experience in the past to implement that in my game, in my mental approach and mindset before this final.
I didn’t expect an easy match. You never get the Grand Slam trophy in an easy way. You have to earn it. I’m very glad that I’m sitting next to it now.
Q. You spoke about Andre. Are you changing the game, too? If yes, in what aspect do you think?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I leave you guys to judge about changing the game or not. I’m just trying to play this game with 100% of devotion, love, passion, and fun also. I mean, 25 years old and I won six Grand Slams and have a lot of trophies.
It’s amazing. You know, I’m just trying to embrace this moment and enjoy it as much as I can and see where tomorrow brings me.
Q. Last year you played the second semifinal, had less rest; this year the opposite. How different is it going into these two finals because of that? Do you think they should change anything to make it more even?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Only thing I can say regarding this tournament is it’s a fantastic success. I mean, the things and the work they have done for the players is tremendous. They keep on improving and striving to be the best out of all the Grand Slams, all the tournaments. I think they’re right at the top.
So all these guys who are part of the organization on the top with Craig Tiley, the tournament director, are making sure the players feel comfortable. I’m sure you have heard and seen many of the positive compliments from the players, men’s and women’s, about this tournament. Others should follow this example.
I enjoy it. I enjoy it as much as I can.
Changes in the game are always questionable. It depends from what perspective you’re looking at it. But it is the way it is. For everybody it’s the same. I’m just glad to be a winner once more.
Q. Do you switch from one surface to another surface?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That’s why I said it’s going to be a lot of fun next weekend to see how I can adjust to clay court in indoor conditions, playing away Davis Cup, which is always tricky.
But, look, you know, right now my thoughts are going in this trophy, enjoying as much as I can. Hopefully I’m going to have time to recover and get ready for that tie.
Q. Do you think you’re the funnest guy in players nowadays?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Do you think (smiling)?
Q. I also heard from some ballkids, they said you are always humor. I notice you said hello to Jie Zheng in Chinese in the press conference, too. I want to know about your philosophy in life for humor?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s tough to find a rational answer for that question.
But the only thing I can say is I try to enjoy what I do and every moment of the life that I have is a blessing.
There is so many athletes, professional tennis players around the world and it’s such a global sport, they want to be the best in what they do. They want to succeed. Many of them, they don’t succeed in the end. I’m fortunate to have this opportunity and to succeed.
I mean, what else can you do but to be happy and try to, you know, bring that joy to the other people around, especially in the tournaments. Everybody has bad days. I’m not always funny or laughing. It’s normal. But generally I’m aware of the fact that it’s an incredible trip for me, you know, being a professional tennis player.
I don’t know if you’re informed or not. I got the permission to leave tonight actually very early in the morning, not tomorrow. So I’m very sorry, and I apologize for not talking to you furthermore tomorrow.
The main reason for that is because I want to get to Europe as quick as possible so I can be ready for the Davis Cup tie. I hope I find your understanding for that.
In the end, there is a little tradition that we try to initiate in World Tour Finals in London, the end of the year, the last press conference, gave chocolate to all the people who were in the press.
I want to start the year with the same thing, if you allow me.
Let’s keep it sweet.
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