Winning a grand slam tournament is the pinnacle for a professional tennis player, and one would assume the celebrations would be suitably large.
Unfortunately for Novak Djokovic, the hours following his 22nd major victory were not so fun-filled.
The Serbian great collected his $2.975 million winner’s cheque after trouncing Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets to win the men’s final at Melbourne Park on Sunday.
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When he fronted media on Monday to show off the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, he was asked how he celebrated a 10th Australian Open crown.
“With media, and with doping control,” he said with a tired laugh.
“(At) 3am is when I went back to accommodation. It was a long night.
“But a huge relief after the match, ending a tournament and a whole journey here to Australia with a grand slam win is always incredibly satisfying.
“I didn’t have the chance yet to celebrate as much as I would like to. I guess that’s going to come in Europe.”
It’s been 15 years since a baby-faced Djokovic – now 35 years old – won his first Open at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic breaks down after defeating Tsitsipas in the Australian Open Men’s Final
His 10th was undoubtedly the toughest and most challenging victory of the lot, having to overcome a number of hurdles on and off the court.
A hamstring injury on the eve of the Open threatened to derail his tournament, while his quarter-final win was overshadowed by the actions of his father following the match.
Srdjan Djokovic was embroiled in controversy when he was filmed posing with pro-Russia activists who were carrying a flag with the face of Vladimir Putin on it.
Srdjan was absent from Rod Laver Arena as his son continued his winning ways to clinch the men’s title.
Djokovic admits the past fortnight has taken a toll.
“It has required an enormous amount of energy, emotionally and mentally most of all,” he said.
“That’s why I feel a little bit deflated at the moment. But greatly satisfied and happy for the win.”
Djokovic’s love affair with Australia, Melbourne, and Rod Laver Arena looks set to continue into 2024.
“I’ll keep on coming back as long as I feel like I can perform at the highest level and be one of the candidates to win.”
Djokovic’s record winning streak on Rod Laver Arena now stands at 27 straight matches.
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