Novak Djokovic, yesterday, battled back from match point down to win his first tournament of the year with a thrilling victory over Sebastian Korda in the final of the Adelaide International 1.
The 35-year-old certainly did not have it all his own way as the American gave a brilliant account of himself, but Djokovic had the nous to get his 92nd tournament win over the line 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.
During a gruelling encounter that lasted three hours and 11 minutes, there was precious little to separate them with only three breaks of serve in total. Two of those came in the first set. Korda had the initial advantage, a gorgeous backhand down the line punishing a stranded Djokovic, but he instantly hit back as his opponent found the net with what looked a routine shot.
The subsequent tie-break was similarly neck-and-neck until a Djokovic slice went long and then he put another return into the net to hand Korda the set, the Serbian venting his frustration at his team at the interval.
Korda then had the opportunity to win the championship towards the end of the second set, but Djokovic worked the situation bravely before a smashed volley emphatically saved him, with another tie-break soon arriving.
Djokovic surged into a 6-1 lead and eventually grasped his third set point, and from then on there only looked like being one winner, with the 21-time grand slam champion pouncing on his first break point in the decider to take the win.
This tournament was of course Djokovic’s first in Australia since being deported ahead of the 2022 Australian Open due to his unvaccinated status. Upon his return to the country where he has won nine grand slams, Djokovic was feeling the love.
“It’s been an amazing week and [the fans] made it even more special. For me to be standing here is a gift, definitely,” Djokovic said in the trophy ceremony.
“I gave it all today and throughout the week in order to be able to get my hands on the trophy.
“The support that I’ve been getting in the past 10 days is something that I don’t think I’ve experienced too many times in my life, so thank you so much [to] everyone for coming out every single match.”
Success ensured Djokovic levelled Rafael Nadal (92) for fourth-most men’s singles titles in the Open Era, with only Ivan Lendl (94), Roger Federer (103) and Jimmy Connors (109) winning more.