It all comes down to this. With history and its place at the top of the world rankings at stake, Novak Djokovic He faces Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open final on Sunday.
The winner will be named the new World No. 1; It will be a first for Tsitsipas, but a return to the top for Djokovic, who has spent 373 weeks at the top of the men’s rankings.
But not only a place at the top of the standings on the line, both players have individual milestones in their headlights.
For Djokovic, Sunday’s win would mark a record 10th Australian Open title, his 22nd Grand Slam – equaling the men’s overall record currently held by Rafael Nadal.
Sunday’s victory will also mark many talking points of the past fortnight – from his hamstring injury to a photo of his father at a demonstration with fans carrying Russian flags, expressing his support for Russia.
After his semi-final victory over American Tommy Paul, Djokovic explained how he handles scrutiny, saying he just had to “accept it”.
“In my case, I feel like things are kind of building up, adding one way or another for one reason or another,” he told reporters. “It’s not an ideal situation or circumstances to be in when you have to deal with all these other external factors that aren’t really necessary during such an important event.
“But it’s been a part of my life. Unfortunately the last few years are more than that. I’m just trying to grow from it. I’m trying to get more flexible and stronger. I think with the experience I have with my routine, I feel like I’m strong enough to know what I need to do.” , when I need to do certain things. I’m able to shut down.”
He continued, “But one way or another today the information gets to you. When it happens, it’s there, so you have to find a way to just kind of accept, let it go, just don’t let it consume your day or turn your state of mind into something you don’t want, especially before.” semi-finals or grand slam finals.
“These are the moments where you’re like, well, now it’s about integration, it’s about creating your own space with your people, getting comfortable, and just trying to focus on what matters.”
On the other side of the net, Tsitsipas will play in his second Grand Slam final – and Djokovic will be making his 33rd appearance.
His composure, accuracy and big hit impressed him on the way to the final and he is now within striking distance of his first title.
The 24-year-old is out for revenge on Djokovic after the pair met in the 2021 French Open final where Djokovic came from two sets down to beat the Greek.
And with so much at stake in the final, Tsitsipas remembered going back to the days when he looked down on those in the position he is in now.
“I remember watching (the players winning major tournaments) on TV and saying to myself: ‘I want to be there one day myself.’ I want to find that feeling for myself,” he told reporters after his semi-final victory over Russia’s Karen Khachanov.
“I knew it was a very long journey to get there. There are some steps you have to take to give yourself the chance to compete for something like this.
“But I believed it too much. I believed it too much. First of all, it’s my ego that speaks. You either have it or you don’t, you know? As a kid, I was very sure of myself. Thank God I was good at my own.”
“Starting from that, I knew if I was able to come out of my country and compete in other countries, European Championships, European Tours, I’ve proven myself over and over again that I’m really good. I finished as No. 1 junior. Now I want to do it in the men’s team. in professional men’s tennis.