So, normalcy is finally restored at the Australian Open. To begin with, it was filled with surprises, whether it be the early losses of both Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev, or the surprising amount of American tennis players who made it deep into the draw. However, Novak Djokovic winning the Australian Open was just another normal occurrence for most people. Yet, the circumstances under which he won, and how historic this title is makes this triumph one to remember.
One year ago, Novak Djokovic was sitting in a hotel (or should we say detention center?), with looming questions being posed about whether or not he would be allowed to play the Australian Open. After weeks of waiting and debate within the courtroom, it was ruled that Djokovic would not be allowed to play. This decision branched from the Serb’s decision to not use the COVID-19 vaccine, which had been mandated in many countries (this constitutes the reason why he did not play the U.S. Open either). He was forced to go home without experiencing any court time. For the rest of the year, Djokovic was restricted from playing many major events, including the tournaments in North America. And yet, out of the few matches that he was able to play, he managed to win five titles, including going undefeated at the Nitto ATP Finals.
While this is all impressive, Novak still faced extensive criticism from many who did not agree with his choices about the COVID vaccine. In fact, he continuously received significant amounts of hate for his decisions. For any normal professional tennis player, this would have taken a psychological toll and definitely would have led to a drop in their level, as has been the case numerous times in the past. However, Novak Djokovic was far from normal.
Remember the speech from Rocky Balboa? “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place…it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” Djokovic embodied this idea to the fullest possible length. He disregarded all the other people around him who did not agree with him, and rather prospered on his own terms. The final outcome was him winning the Australian Open, not only proving all of his doubters wrong but also asserting his dominance against up-and-coming stars.
Not only were the circumstances against Djokovic, but the history that the Serb made in the process was also very special. He extended his grand slam amount to a record-tying twenty trophies, tying Rafael Nadal in the process. Furthermore, Djokovic won his tenth Australian Open title, the most that has ever been won by one person at The Happy Slam. Furthermore, with the triumph, he ascended to the number one spot, and increased the record he held of the most number of weeks spent as world number one.
Novak Djokovic is by far one of the greatest tennis players of his generation and even in this generation. His defense and ability to close out matches have been admired by many. Yet, his strongest suite probably lies not in his actual game but in his mentality. No matter what setback Djokovic encounters with, he is able to come back stronger and prove that he truly is from a different planet. In current times, it does not seem that there is any tennis player who can challenge the world number one. Only time will tell how many more grand slams he will win.