Novak Djokovic is once again the top-ranked tennis player in the world. And he has no plans to give up the top spot anytime soon.
The Serbian star’s victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece was his 10th Australian Open championship. The win also tied him with Rafael Nadal of Spain for the men’s record of 22 Grand Slam championships. The Australian Open is the first of the four yearly Grand Slam championships, followed by the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open.
After his victory, Djokovic said, “I still have lots of motivation. Let’s see how far it takes me. I really don’t want to stop here.” He added, “I feel great about my tennis. I know that when I’m feeling good physically, (and) mentally present, I have a chance to win any Slam against anybody.”
Djokovic could not play in last year’s Australian Open after being deported for not being vaccinated against COVID-19. This year, he had to deal with a leg injury. And he had to deal with questions about his father being seen in photos with supporters of Russia.
After the victory, a crying Djokovic said he was “emotionally collapsed.” He told the crowd that it took a lot of mental energy, but he wanted to see how far he could go.
Djokovic, along with Nadal and Roger Federer of Switzerland are often called “the Big Three” in tennis. From 2003 to 2023, they won 64 of the last 77 Grand Slams.
In the modern game, only Roger Federer has won a Grand Slam past the age of 35. In 2018, Federer won the last of his 20 Slams at age 36. The following year, at the age of 37, Federer was only one point away from winning Wimbledon but lost to Djokovic in one of Wimbledon’s greatest matches.
Federer is now 41 and retired. Nadal is 36 and he withdrew from the Australian Open this year because of an injury.
As Djokovic is turning 36 in May, tennis fans are questioning how much longer Djokovic can keep winning the Grand Slams.
“Definitely two, three more years,” said Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion who has coached Djokovic since 2019. “The way he’s taking care of his body, the way he (approaches) everything . . .it’s amazing.”
But there are young players competing for the top spot. Last year, Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest-ever world number one at age 19 after winning the U.S. Open. A leg injury kept Alcaraz from this year’s Australian Open.
Djokovic was also not permitted to play in the U.S. Open last year for not being vaccinated against COVID-19. No decision has been made for this year’s U.S. Open. But the Serbian is considered among the favorites to win the French and Wimbledon championships.
“Physically, I can keep myself fit. Of course, 35 is not 25, even though I want to believe it is,” Djokovic said. “But I still feel there is time ahead of me. Let’s see how far I go.”
I’m Andrew Smith.
Howard Fendrich wrote this story for The Associated Press. Andrew Smith adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
rank -n. position in a scale relative to others
motivation -n. the desire to do something or accomplish certain goals
deport -v. a governmental action forcing a person out of the country and returning them to their own country of origin
match -n. an athletic competition between two individuals or teams
fit -adj. characterized by having high levels of strength, speed, and endurance
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