Novak Djokovic's sad admission about father after Australian Open triumph
The Serbian tennis star said the situation left him feeling 'hurt' in the wake of a historic 10th Australian Open title.
Novak Djokovic admits he was 'hurt' at not having his father Srdjan on hand to witness his historic 10th title at the Australian Open on Sunday night. The Serb's straight-sets win over Greek ace Stefanos Tsitsipas saw him equal Rafael Nadal's all-time record of 22 men's grand slam singles titles.
The stunning 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) victory over Tsitsipas sees Djokovic reclaim the No.1 ranking in the world, and helps ease the pain of last year's deportation saga that saw him booted out of the country and miss the Australian Open altogether. Not that 2023 has been much smoother for the 35-year-old, with Djokovic brushing off the scrutiny around his father, as well claims he's been playing up the extent of a hamstring injury, to once again reign supreme at Melbourne Park.
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Djokovic was overcome with emotion after the match and began crying uncontrollably when he went to celebrate with his player's box immediately after the victory. He shared in a beautiful embrace with his mother and brother, but the Serb's father had decided not to come after being wrapped up in a pro-Russia controversy earlier in the tournament.
Djokovic's father opted not to attend the final, despite tournament boss Craig Tiley announcing he would be free to take his place inside Rod Laver Arena, after unwittingly finding himself at the centre of an ugly storm. Srdjan Djokovic was captured posing with pro-Russia spectators - some wearing t-shirts with Vladimir Putin or sporting pro-war 'Z' symbols on them - on Wednesday night. The scenes followed Djokovic's quarter-final victory over Andrey Rublev and sparked enormous controversy.
Despite being given the green light to attend Rod Laver Arena for his son's final against Tsitsipas, Srdjan Djokovic opted to stay away after discussions with his son. Speaking after clinching his 10th Australian Open title, the 22-time major winner said it filled him with sadness that his dad wasn't present to share in his historic achievement.
"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," Djokovic told reporters about his father's absence. "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."
Novak Djokovic seals 'biggest victory' of his career
The 35-year-old admitted that it was a brutally difficult decision for he and his father to make. Ultimately though, the Serb was content that it was the right one.
"Look, it is what it is. 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," Djokovic added. 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. We talked. That was the whole conversation.
"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."
Djokovic - who has never lost a semi-final or a final at the Australian Open in 20 matches - touched on what his latest victory meant during an emotional victory speech. The 35-year-old is set to return to No.1 in the world and called this year's success at Melbourne Park "the biggest victory" of his life.
"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," Djokovic 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."
The great Rod Laver was fittingly front and centre with the best view in the house named in his honour for the Serb's latest history-making act.
"There is a reason why I've played my best tennis throughout my career in Australia and on this court in front of legendary Rod Laver. Thank you so much for being present tonight, sir," Djokovic added. "I tried to pinch myself and really live through these moments."
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