2023 In Review: Novak Djokovis matches Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic lifted a trophy in the season's first event after a thriller

by Jovica Ilic
2023 In Review: Novak Djokovis matches Rafael Nadal
© Sarah Reed / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic made a winning start to the season, winning the title in Adelaide. Novak celebrated in this city 16 years after earning his third ATP title there. Also, he matched Rafael Nadal's 92 ATP titles, looking good to pass the Spaniard in the rest of the year.

Djokovic faced the young American Sebastian Korda in the title clash and prevailed 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 in three hours and nine minutes. The Serb saved a match point in the second set's closing stages and delivered a late break in the decider.

Novak grabbed 14 points more than Sebastian, staying focused and overpowering the young gun with a more reliable performance in the decider. Djokovic controlled his strokes nicely, hitting a similar number of winners and unforced errors.

Korda fired more winners than Djokovic, although they came at the cost of 50 unforced errors. Novak had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range rallies, while Sebastian built a slim advantage in the most advanced exchanges.

They embraced a massive battle in the opener, fighting for 73 minutes. Korda denied two set points and prevailed in the decisive moments to build an early advantage. The rivals kicked off the action with eight comfortable holds, staying neck and neck at 4-4.

Sebastian raised his level on the return in the ninth game, creating two break points after forcing Novak's mistake. The American attacked the first and seized it with a backhand down the line winner that pushed him in front.

Korda served for the set at 5-4 and created three set points. He squandered them, including a routine backhand on the third.

Novak Djokovic claimed the ATP 250 title in Adelaide.

Djokovic took five straight points, breaking back after Korda's backhand error and extending the set.

Sebastian struggled on serve again in the 12th game, placing a backhand wide and offering Novak a set point. Korda saved it with a powerful serve and introduced a tie break. The young gun made a better start and opened a 5-2 advantage after Djokovic's backhand error.

Korda earned two set points with a backhand down the line winner, and Djokovic climbed back to 6-6, prolonging the battle. Sebastian saved the second set point at 6-7 with a service winner and squandered another chance at 8-7.

Korda created his seventh set point at 9-8 after Djokovic's backhand error, moving in front after a great battle. Novak served well in the second set, and Sebastian followed that pace. The American created a match point on the return in the 12th game, and the Serb denied it with a smash winner.

Novak grabbed two mini-breaks at 2-1 and created five set points at 6-1. Djokovic converted the third, forcing a decider after two hours and 17 minutes. After three fine holds at the beginning of the final set, Korda faced two break points in the fourth game.

The American landed two strong forehands, got out of jail and held for 2-2. Djokovic held after deuce in the ninth game following a backhand winner, forcing his rival to serve to stay in the match. Sebastian squandered game points in the tenth game and faced a match point after a loose smash.

Novak seized after the rival's forehand error, celebrating after over three hours and making a victorious start to the season.

Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic