Novak Djokovic says he was ’emotionally broken’ after Australian Open win CNN


For nearly two decades, we’ve grown accustomed to Novak Djokovic winning Grand Slams. But celebrating the Australian Open win with his family and team saw the world number one in tears on the floor. He would later say that he was “emotionally broken.”

A straight sets victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne on Sunday was of historic importance. It was his 10th Australian Open, making Djokovic the second man to win more than 10 titles in a single Slam, and a 22nd Grand Slam, setting the men’s record for major wins he now shares with Rafael Nadal. The win moved him back to the world No. 1 spot for a record-extending 374th week.

Even as he returned to his seat on court for the trophy presentation, Djokovic hid his face in a towel, television cameras picking up his constant sobs.

But speaking to reporters after her victory, she explained that the emotional outburst was not just a reaction to what she had achieved but also to what she had to deal with in the past few weeks.

The 35-year-old said in his press conference: “Of course, when I went to my box, I think I broke down emotionally and cried especially with my mother and my brother, when I hugged them, because until that moment I was allowing myself. Not, I guess, getting distracted by things off the court or dealing with injuries, whatever’s going on off the court, as well, it could easily be a big distraction to my focus, my game.

“It takes a huge amount of mental strength to really be present, to stay focused, to take things day by day and really see how far I can go.”

Last year, Djokovic was unable to defend his title after being deported from the country due to his Covid-19 vaccination status. At Melbourne Park this year, he suffered a hamstring injury and had to deal with the aftermath of his father Srijan being filmed with a group of Russian fans at the Australian Open, which Djokovic said “required a huge amount of mental and emotional energy” to focus on tennis.

With his father not present in the players’ box for the final, Djokovic said the situation saddened them both.

“I thought things would calm down in terms of the media and everything, but they didn’t,” Serb said

“We both agreed that it would probably be better if he wasn’t there. It hurts me and him a lot because it’s a very special, unique moment. Who knows if they recur.

“So it was not easy for him. I must have seen him after the match. Yes, she was not feeling her best, let’s say, although she was very happy to hug me and of course with everything.

“I could see that he was a little sad. See, that’s what it is. I think what he finally told me was that it’s important that I feel good on the court, that I win matches and that he’s here for me.

“If it’s going to be better for me as a result of the match that he’s not in the box, then so be it. That was the whole conversation.

“In a way, I’m sorry he wasn’t there, in the stands. But he was there throughout the tournament, so good. In the end, we have a happy ending.”

Djokovic revealed that his injury meant he was not hopeful of going into the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, saying it was “a matter of surviving each match, trying to make it to the next round.”

Djokovic had “77 therapies a day” to try to heal the hamstring problem that put his participation in doubt, his coach Goran Ivanisevic told reporters.

“Let me put it this way. I don’t say 100%, but 97% of the players, when you get the results from the MRI on Saturday, you go straight to the referee’s office and walk out of the tournament. But not him,” said Ivanisevic.

“He’s from another space. His brain is working differently. I’ve been with him for four years, but I still wonder how his brain works sometimes. He gave it all. 77 therapies a day. Each day was better and better. I didn’t expect it. To be honest, I was shocked.”

Djokovic dropped a set during this year's Australian Open.

Since the fourth round, Djokovic said, his legs started to improve and he started playing his best tennis.

Now tied with Nadal on the men’s all-time list for Grand Slams, Djokovic said he was “motivated to win as many Slams as possible.”

“I really don’t want to stop here. I don’t want to stop here,” he said. “I feel great about my tennis. I know that when I feel good physically, mentally, I have a chance to win any slam against anybody.

“I don’t know how many more years I’m going to play or how many more Slams I’m going to play. It depends on several things. It’s not just about my body.

“I think it’s very important for me, of course, to have support and love from those close to me first, and to be able to balance playing and personal life, but at the same time have mental clarity. Or – how should I say – the desire to really try to chase these trophies.

“Physically, I can keep myself fit. Of course, 35 is not 25, although I’d like to believe so. But I still think I have time ahead of me. Let’s see how far I can go.”

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