Australian Open 2020: After victory, Novak Djokovic pays tribute to bushfire casualties, Kobe Bryant
@AustralianOpen Twitter

Novak Djokovic battled through a five-set thriller against Dominic Thiem to maintain his dominance at the Australian Open finals on Sunday, claiming a record eighth title and returning to world number one in the process.

Following the win, Djokovic paid heartfelt tribute to Australian bushfire casualties and mentor Kobe Bryant who passed away in a recent helicopter crash.

"2020 started with devastating things, bushfires here in Australia, conflicts in some parts of the world and people are dying everyday," he said.

"And obviously one person that I considered very close in my life, who was also a mentor to me - Kobe Bryant passed away as well with his daughter," added the 32-year-old.

Mourning the loss of his friend and mentor, Djokovic said, "This is a reminder to all of us that we should stick together more than ever."

"Being with our families and staying close to people who love and care about you. We are part of the professional sport, we try our best and compete, but there are obviously more important things in our life."

"It is also important to be conscious and humble about things that are happening around you," he added.

Coming back to the match, the indomitable Serb stretched his unbeaten streak this season to 13, but had to rally from two sets to one down to beat the courageous fifth-seeded Austrian 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a nearly four-hour marathon.

It was his 17th Grand Slam title, making him two shy of Rafael Nadal and three of Roger Federer on the all-time list.

Speaking after his win, Djokovic said, "Definitely my favourite court, my favourite stadium in the world and I'm blessed to hold this trophy once again."

Victory puts him alongside fellow legends as only the third man in history to win eight or more titles at the same Slam after Nadal (12 at the French Open) and Federer (eight at Wimbledon).

It also ensured he will once again be world number one when the new rankings are released on Monday, usurping Nadal. Federer remains third with Thiem moving up a place to a career-high fourth.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in