Tennis

Djokovic Needed AO Title Badly

Novak Djokovic’s ninth Australian Open title is one of the most memorable—and meaningful— of his career, says coach Goran Ivanisevic.

The world No. 1 calmed a swirling storm of injury, controversy and history winning his 18th career Grand Slam crown to narrow the gap on 20-time Grand Slam champions Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

More: Dynamic Djokovic Rolls to Ninth AO Title

Ivanisevic said Djokovic “needed this victory so badly” after a series of of challenges including the world No. 1 being booted from the US Open fourth round last September after accidentally hitting a lineswoman in the throat with a ball. Last month, Djokovic faced major media backlash after speaking out on behalf of 72 players serving hard quarantine in Melbourne, then he suffered a strained abdominal in his third-round victory over Taylor Fritz.  

“Actually he needed this victory so badly. There is somebody upstairs who see all this unfairness with a lot of media and people they doing to him,” Ivanisevic said. “He is going through lot of, you know, especially after last year, US Open, then pretty poor final of Roland Garros, and is not easy. Coming here, he spent 42 days quarantine.

“Again, he tried to help the players. Again, he’s only him. It’s his fault, like everybody else attacking to him. Nobody else to attack, so let’s attack Novak. Then this injury happen out of nowhere. Unbelievable. To be honest, I can’t believe that I’m sitting here today talking to you as a member of the team of the guy who won number nine Australian Open.”


Hall of Famer Ivanisevic hugged Djokovic after his 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Daniil Medvedev his coach called a “masterpiece.” 

“Even with that injury, they questioned the injury. You know, he took MRI after Fritz match,” Ivanisevic said. “The doctor said what he has. They gave him the choices. Some people, they can deal with the pain. Some people, they cannot deal with the pain. It’s like that. Somebody can take more pain; somebody can take less pain.

“Key match for me was one with Raonic, and after with Zverev. After that was better and better. Today was just masterpiece. He never lost on this court. Unbelievable, unbelievable performance…

“He showed the world again how great, how big he is as a tennis player. This is his tournament. Like Rafa has his French Open, Novak has his Australian Open. Nine times, unbelievable. It just shows you this victory is even sweeter that I know what he has, I know what kind of emotions and pain he went through in last week, and he wins the tournament. In this way it’s just amazing.”

Tennis Express

It’s also vital in Djokovic’s race to surpass both Nadal and Federer as the all-time Grand Slam king. Ivanisevic said Team Djokovic expects Nadal to win a couple of more majors so this AO title was important to stay within striking distance.

“If he didn’t win one, you know, he’s getting older, and he needed, if he wants to break the record, if he want to catch Roger and Rafa,” Ivanisevic said. “Honestly, Rafa is going to win one more, maybe two for sure, French Opens. You need to keep going winning. Novak is favorite in Wimbledon and US Open. But, I mean, especially after US Open, it’s not easy to deal with all this disappointment.

“Then after another loss in the final of French Open, which was not a good performance, then rest of year was kind of like so-so, went pretty quick. He really was very motivated from the moment we step in Australia, practice 14 days in Adelaide, he was really keen to do well here.

“He knows that this is his court, this is his tournament, and he proved it these two weeks, with injury, with everything, that he is the nine-times Australian Open champion. Wow, beating Medvedev like this, unbelievable. Unbelievable performance.”

Photo credit: Paul Crock/Getty

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