Novak Djokovic has claimed his 92nd career title after an epic final against Sebastian Korda and a blow-up at his own entourage at the Adelaide International. An agitated Djokovic saved a match point in the second set before storming back to beat his young opponent 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 over three hours and eight minutes.
The World No.5 was left fuming after dropping the opening set and lashed out at his own box. Djokovic could be seen telling someone to get out of his box, with brother Marko later seen leaving the area.
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“He got angry. I’s unusual,” Roger Rasheed said in commentary for Channel 9. “He pointed to his box and two out of five members are no longer sitting there.
“It’s probably living proof that he wants to win badly, in this final. He’s got his game face on, mixed with a bit of anger at the moment.”
The 21-time grand slam champion was apologetic after the match. He said: "I'd like to thank my team for handling me, for tolerating me in the good and bad times today.
"I'm sure they didn't have (a) blast with me going back and forth with them. My brother Marko was also here, I appreciate you coming here.
"It's been an amazing week, and you guys made it even more special for me. I gave it my all today and all week to get my hands on the trophy."
Korda earned a championship point on Djokovic's serve in the second set. But Djokovic saved it with his nerveless overhead smash, and he came up with the goods to level the match in the tiebreaker. The third set also seemed headed for a breaker, before Djokovic capitalised when Korda tightened up late in the match.
— Luka Nikolić (@luksie1) January 8, 2023
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The victory extended Djokovic's winning streak in Australia to 34 matches, stretching back five years. It comes as a major confidence boost in his quest to win a 10th Australian Open title, particularly considering his deportation from the country last year meant he missed the grand slam.
Korda, the 22-year-old American son of the Czech Republic's 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, won over plenty of fans with his incredible display. "I wish we could have gotten it done today, but there's a long way to go and there were a lot of positives," he said.
Djokovic said he loved his experience in Adelaide and feels the tournament was the perfect preparation for the first major of the year. "Absolutely. Five great matches," he said.
"The second round it was 7-6, 7-6 - tough two tiebreakers against (Quentin) Halys, who is playing very well. Then I had (Denis) Shapovalov, (Daniil) Medvedev and Korda, who is on fire, playing some high-level tennis, striking the ball amazingly.
"I couldn't ask for a better preparation and lead-up to Australian Open. I have a week off for recovery now and working on specific things in terms of my game, my body, getting my mind in the right state for the best-of-five and two long weeks hopefully."
Djokovic appeared to pick up a hamstring injury in his win over Medvedev in the semi-final. However he later downplayed the issue and showed no signs of discomfort on Sunday night.
The 35-year-old said he'd worked "deep into the night" with his physio after the Medvedev match and was able to shake off the niggle. "It was all right," he said, adding that he's confident it won't affect him at Melbourne Park come January 16. "There were a few times in the match I felt was tightening up, the muscle, but nothing that would worry me for my performance."
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