Serbian Novak Djokovic dropped just one set through seven matches to win the 2023 Australian Open men's singles title Sunday in Melbourne. Photo by James Ross/EPA-EFE
Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Novak Djokovic overwhelmed Stefanos Tsitsipas with a ferocious forehand return to finalize a straight-sets victory in the 2023 Australian Open men's singles final Sunday in Melbourne.
The win gave the Serbian a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title. Djokovic, who missed the 2022 tournament due to his unvaccinated status, is now tied with Spaniard Rafael Nadal for the most major titles in men's tennis history.
"This was one of the most challenging tournaments I've ever played in my life, not playing last year and coming back this year," Djokovic said at the trophy ceremony on ESPN.
"I want to thank all the people that made me feel welcome and comfortable to be in Melbourne and to be in Australia. ... This is probably the biggest victory of my life."
Djokovic totaled seven aces, 36 winners and converted 2 of 5 break points in the 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) triumph. The No. 4 seed, who owns a record 10 Australian Open crowns, earned nearly $2.1 million for his latest win at Rod Laver Arena. He committed 22 unforced errors in the match, which lasted nearly three hours.
Tsitsipas, who is still searching for his first Grand Slam, totaled 15 aces, 40 winners and converted 1 of 3 break points. The No. 3 seed logged 42 unforced errors.
"I'd had the privilege to play a lot of difficult, high-intensity matches, but I'd like to say Novak brings the best out of me," Tsitsipas said.
"He is the greatest that has ever held a tennis racket. I'd like to thank him for pushing our sport so far."
Djokovic and Tsitsipas each held their first serves of the match. Djokovic held again in the third game and broke Tsitsipas in the fourth for a 3-1 edge. He went on to win three of the final five games in the first set.
The foes each held their serves through a dozen games in the second set, which forced a tie break. Djokovic settled that set when Tsitsipas lost the final point on a forehand forced error.
Tsitsipas broke Djokovic's serve to start the third set, but the Serbian broke back in the second game. Djokovic and Tsitsipas went on to hold their serves through the 12th game, forcing another tie break. Djokovic raced out to a 5-0 lead in the tie break before Tsitsipas tightened the score to 6-5.
Djokovic eventually ripped his forehand return down the left flank. Tsitsipas slid and sliced a shot back to the Serbian, but the attempt sailed over the baseline, ending the match.
The 2023 French Open is the next Grand Slam on the tennis schedule. The clay-court major will run from May 28 through June 11 at Roland Garros in Paris. Djokovic is a two-time French Open champion.