Novak Djokovic was down on Sunday evening in Adelaide and nearly out when he faced championship point against Sebastian Korda. But in trademark fashion the Serbian found a way to win his 92nd tour-level title.
Djokovic saved championship point at 5-6 in the second set before rallying past the American 6-7(8), 7-6(3), 6-4 after a gruelling three hours and nine minutes. After Korda missed a final forehand long, Djokovic tapped his right index finger to his head as a nod to his resilience.
“It’s been an amazing week and you guys made it even more special. For me to be standing here is a gift, definitely,” Djokovic told the crowd during 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.”
The 35-year-old is now tied with Rafael Nadal for the fourth-most men’s singles titles in the Open Era, trailing only Jimmy Connors (109), Roger Federer (103) and Ivan Lendl (94). He has won 34 consecutive matches in Australia since the start of 2019 and 23 of his past 24 matches overall.
Djokovic had treatment on his left leg during Saturday’s semi-final win against Daniil Medvedev in South Australia, but he moved well in an intense baseline exchange on the first point of the match that set the tone for an absorbing match.
The former World No. 1 praised Korda’s clean ball-striking ahead of the match, and that proved deserved as the American played fearless baseline tennis to take the action to the Serbian. With Djokovic serving at 5-6, 30/40 in the second set, Korda needed just one more clutch strike to earn the biggest win of his career.
But Djokovic took the initiative in the point and finished it off by putting away a tricky overhead. From there, he surged through the tie-break and forced a decider.
Despite the disappointment of letting slip his opportunity, Korda continued to battle. The No. 33 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings saved two break points at 1-2 and slowed down Djokovic’s momentum.
But at 5-4 in the third set with Korda serving, Djokovic pounced on his first chance to seal his victory. The top seed, who also lifted a trophy in Adelaide in 2007, won 85 per cent of his first-serve points in the match and converted two of his seven break points. He again praised his opponent after the match.
“Amazing tournament, amazing effort today. I’d probably say that you were closer to victory today than I was,” Djokovic said. “It was decided in one or two shots, one or two points. Tough luck today, but the future is bright for you, so just keep going, and you’re an amazing player. Well done.”