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Tim Henman says he had ‘never seen anything like’ Novak Djokovic’s emotional reaction to claiming a record-extending 10th Australian Open title in Melbourne. Djokovic reigned supreme Down Under once again to equal Rafael Nadal’s tally of 22 Grand Slam crowns in stunning style.
Djokovic shed tears in his players’ box following his straight sets victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on the Rod Laver Arena. The 35-year-old returned to world no.1 as he reasserted his dominance in men’s tennis, dropping only one set in another scintillating fortnight on the blue hard courts of his favourite Slam.
The Serbian legend hit the deck sobbing as he embraced his family, and his unfamiliar outpouring of raw emotion can perhaps be attributed to the various challenges he has faced off the court in Australia.
He not only managed the emotion of returning to the country he was dramatically deported from last year, but also nursed a hamstring injury that could have threatened his latest tilt at history.
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And there was also the unwanted distraction of Djokovic’s father being caught up in controversy as he was pictured posing with Vladimir Putin supporters in pro-Russia protests in the days leading up to the final in Melbourne.
“It’s been hard for him on court with his injury and today’s match was tight at the end of the last two sets,” Henman told Eurosport. “When he’s celebrating and the tears are flowing… he’s crying in his family box, I’ve never seen anything like that.
“It shows how much it’s taken out of him physically and emotionally. A 22nd Grand Slam is just an incredible achievement. It’s an accumulation of so many things: winning in a country where he was deported, and now he gets the opportunity. His preparation was looking good until he got injured. He was getting so close to the record, and we know how much it means to him. It’s another milestone.”
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Djokovic revelled in the ‘biggest victory of his life’ as he handled various mental challenges in Melbourne, including the fall-out from last year’s visa saga. “This has been one of the most challenging tournaments I’ve ever played in my life,” he admitted after overcoming Tsitsipas.
“Not playing last year, coming back this year. I want to thank all the people that made me feel welcome, made me feel comfortable to be in Melbourne, to be in Australia.
“There’s a reason I’ve played my best tennis on this court. Only my team and my family know what we’ve been through in the last four, five weeks. This probably is the biggest victory in my life considering the circumstances.”
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