It was 12 years ago that a rising player named Novak Djokovic won his first Australian Open against a determined Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a four-set thriller. He was overjoyed. "This is something I've always dreamed of...I found myself in the position of being the favorite in a grand slam final...there were nerves and there was pressure," the 20-year old Serbian had said back then, shaking his head in disbelief.
Surprisingly, some things remain the same in over a decade and it was Djokovic's battle with Austria's Dominic Thiem that turned into a victory his 8th Australian title and counting. This time the Serb did it in a 5-setter that had many still sking their heads as to how he pulled it off.
"Grand Slams are the ones I value the most and I prioritize..." he had said at the final pressure conference. Djokovic is fiery and a record breaker. No other player has won the Melbourne Slam more than six times. He also defended his title from last year when he defeated Rafael Nadal in 3 straight sets.
It wasn't too scrappy for a player who had came down from a 2-set deficit either, to come up and do what he does best and win. "Definitely my favorite court, my favorite stadium in the world, he'd said with that boysish grin of his.
He not only got the 8th Aussie title but moves to No. 1 in the rankings swiping the spot from Rafael Nadal. Thiem had cranked up his performances to a fine chisel but there ws o defeating a moving human train that was about to run him over and out.
"Amazing achievement. Unreal what you're doing throughout all these years said the 5th ranked Thiem. The Austraian just had to give Djokovic his kudos saying "You and also two other guys, I think you brought men's tennis to a complete new level...I fell a little bit short today, but I hope I can get, soon revenge," Thiem said with a little joke.
He was disgusted for sure and added that "In the last two sets I gave everything I had." Djokovic returned a comment saying "It wasn't meant to be tonight. Tough luck...You were very close to win it and you definitely have a lot more time in your career.
I am sure you will definitely get one of the Grand Slam trophies. More than one." As with any tennis match there had to be a little drama and theatrics. Djokovic was sweating it out not with the heat so much as trying to close out that two-set deficit.
He had a doctor and trainer come to court in the third set as he quickly tried to hydrate by chugging down waters and energy drinks. He also had a few time violations of serve which he had to give smack talk to the chair up Damien Dumusosis along with touching his foot saying, "You made yourself famous in this match.
Great job. Especially in the second one. Great job...Well done, man." For Djokovic's fury he'll receive some where near a $20,000 fine. There also came some explanation from the Serb to cover over the fine about the shoe touching saying "I though it was a nice, really friendly touch.
I wasn't aggressive with him..." The components of the match however wasn't overturned by the great play from Dominic Thiem as he tried to grind out a victory over the ever-mentally superior Novak Djokovic.
It has become more and more difficult in the stretch for anyone to compare to the Serbian who manages to mix and blend his talents whether opening sets or down to the wire to push out those victories and titles on nearly any surface or location. Every fan and crowd is staying tuned to the Djokovic machine for more of everything to come.