On the morning after his record-extending ninth Australian Open final victory, Novak Djokovic visited Brighton Beach to reflect on his 18th Grand Slam triumph.
The World No. 1, who joined 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal as only the second man to win nine or more titles at the same major championship, took the time to thank the fans who supported him inside Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night. Djokovic was backed by not only the Australian fans, but also a strong contingent of Serbian supporters during his 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 triumph against Daniil Medvedev.
“I had great support last night. I thought it was fantastic to play in front of the people,” said Djokovic. “We probably had more than half the stadium full and I thought the atmosphere was electric. Serbian supporters were really loud and brought a lot of energy to the stadium and to myself.
“[They] backed me from the very first point. Playing in such an atmosphere always gives you wings, it gives you wind in the sails, in a way. I started off the match very strongly from the first point and I kept that momentum going all the way through. They were one of the biggest reasons why I played the way I played last night.”
In the hours after lifting the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup for the ninth time, Djokovic celebrated his victory with his closest friends and family and began to pack for the trip home.
“I had a late, late dinner, had a little chat with the team, listened to some music and started packing,” said Djokovic. “I went to bed, called my family and tried to share the adrenaline and great feelings that I have been experiencing with the closest people in my life. I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t sleep much. The adrenaline has settled in a little bit now, but it still feels great. I am obviously very fulfilled, happy and joyful to be holding this trophy again.”
Since his first major triumph, Djokovic’s post-final celebrations have evolved over time. The 18-time Grand Slam champion was just 20 years old when he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win his maiden major title at this event in 2008 and, back then, his celebrations were more extravagant. These days, as a husband and father to two children, Djokovic’s priorities have changed.
“There is always a way to celebrate and it is just different every time… When I go back home, I will definitely celebrate with my family, with my friends,” said Djokovic. “I used to go wild and go to discotheques and nightclubs… Now, it is a bit different. [It is] a different kind of celebration, more of a homely celebration with family and the closest people.”
Prior to his visit to Brighton Beach on Monday, Djokovic visited his doctor for an update on the abdominal oblique muscle tear he suffered during his third-round victory against Taylor Fritz. The Serbian played through the pain in his next two matches against Milos Raonic and Alexander Zverev, before he recorded back-to-back wins against Alsan Karatsev and Medvedev to win his third straight trophy in Melbourne.
“I just actually came from another MRI that I had done this morning. The damage is bigger than what it was when it happened, when I did the first MRI after the third round,” said Djokovic. “It is not too bad, judging by what the doctor said, but I will have to take some time off and heal. The tear is bigger. It is 2.5 centimetres, 25 millimetres. It started at 1.7 [centimetres].”
Djokovic may be one of the most successful players in Grand Slam history, but he is still learning new lessons in each major championship he competes at. The 6’2” right-hander’s injury struggles in Melbourne provided him with crucial experience in how to manage any similar issues at future events.
“[The biggest lesson I learned was] resilience and the ability to deal with an injury mid-way through a tournament. It is something really that I haven’t really, to that extent, experienced before,” said Djokovic. “I definitely have been tested a lot, mentally and physically, and just managed one day at a time. [I] understood that if things are done really properly, regardless of what kind of circumstances you are in, you can still manage to find a way out and go all the way.”