Novak Djokovic has opened up on his heartache at being away from his wife and children amid his historic triumph at the Australian Open. The Serbian star captured a 22nd career grand slam title on Sunday night, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) in the final.
Djokovic will also move back to World No.1 after winning his 10th Australian Open title, which has seen him go level with Rafa Nadal's all-time men's record of 22 majors. But Djokovic's triumph was tinged with sadness after some of the most important people in his life weren't in attendance on Sunday night.
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Djokovic's father Srdjan chose to stay away from Rod Laver Arena after he was unwittingly caught up in the furore surrounding pro-Russia supporters at the Australian Open. Djokovic's wife Jelena also chose not to travel to Australia this year, instead watching at home with their two children Stefan and Tara.
Discussing his future in tennis in his post-match press conference, Djokovic revealed his heartache at being away from his young family for long periods of time. "I feel game-wise physically I still can sustain and maintain the top level," he said. "So as long as that's the case, why not keep going?
"I don't know when the end is going to happen in terms of professional career. Right now I have the motivation, I have support of the close ones, which is also something that is probably underestimated and not maybe talked about a lot, but it's a key, especially as a father.
"Being absent from the children is not something that makes me very happy. It's a balancing act between me and my wife and the close people in my life. So her being there for our children and everything, it allows me to be able to do what I love and still make some strides, significant strides, in this sport.
"Of course, I have professional goals and ambitions. Those are grand slams and being No.1 in the world. Those two probably pinnacles of the professional tennis world have always been there as goals for me. So I do want to make more history of this sport, no doubt."
Novak Djokovic opens up on father's absence
Djokovic also revealed his sadness that his father chose to stay away from Sunday night's final. Australian Open boss Craig Tiley had earlier given Srdjan the green light to attend the match despite him being seen mingling with pro-Russia supporters earlier in the tournament.
"I thought the things will calm down in terms of media and everything, but it didn't. We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there," the Serbian star revealed.
"That hurts me and him a lot because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they repeat again. So it was not easy for him.
"I saw him after the match, of course. Yeah, he was not feeling his best, let's say, even though he was very happy to hug me and of course with everything. I could see that, yeah, he's a bit sad.
"I think in the end also what he told me is that it's important that I feel good on the court, I win the match, and he's here for me. If it's going to be better for me as the outcome of the match so that he's not in the box, then so be it.
"In a way, I'm also sad that he was not there, present, in the stands. But he was throughout the entire tournament, so it's fine. In the end, we have a happy ending."
Speaking during his victory speech in the post-match presentation, Djokovic described his 10th Australian Open title as the "biggest victory" of his life. His triumph came after he was infamously deported from the country in January last year and missed out on playing the grand slam.
"I have to say that this has been one of the most challenging tournaments I have ever played in my life, considering the circumstances not playing last year, coming back this year," he said. "Only the team and the family knows what we've been through in the last four or five weeks and this probably is, I would say, the biggest victory in my life considering the circumstances."
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