Australian Open 2023 – Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Novak Djokovic

MELBOURNE, Australia — After Novak Djokovic’s dominant fourth-round Australian Open win over Alex de Minaur, the 21-time Grand Slam champion was requested in regards to the different seven males remaining within the draw. He zeroed in on Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“Tsitsipas [is] probably the most experienced guy out of all the quarterfinalists. He has played the final stages of a Grand Slam quite a few times. I think he has never played a final,” questioned Djokovic.

A reporter was fast to appropriate him: “You beat him in Roland Garros [2021]. It was a good match. You came back.”

“That’s right. That’s right. Sorry, my bad,” replied a smirking Djokovic.

Was it early gamesmanship or just forgetfulness from the Serbian? Both means, it is an interesting subtext to Sunday’s Australian Open males’s remaining when Djokovic and Tsitsipas step out onto Rod Laver Area and battle for the Norman Brookes Problem Cup.

For all the upsets and uncertainty at 2023’s season-opening Slam, the showpiece match will characteristic essentially the most profitable tennis participant in Melbourne Park historical past and the present world No. 4. It is hardly a shock decider.

Djokovic, the early favourite, leads the head-to-head 10-2, however Tsitsipas is in career-best kind and should not be taken frivolously by the nine-time Australian Open champion.

“I’m playing great tennis. I’m enjoying myself. I just see no downside or negativity in what I’m trying to do out there,” Tsitsipas stated after his semifinal win over Karen Khachanov. “This is something that has been sort of lacking in my game. I genuinely believe in what I’m able to produce.”

Historical past will probably be made, no matter who prevails. Djokovic is searching a record-equaling twenty second main title, whereas Tsitsipas will look to turn into the primary individual from Greece to win a Grand Slam. Plus, if the stakes weren’t already excessive sufficient, the winner would be the new ATP world No. 1.

Get set for what ought to be an epic males’s remaining.

Why Stefanos Tsitsipas will win

Earlier than Tsitsipas confronted Djokovic in that 2021 Roland Garros remaining, he performed maybe essentially the most grueling and intense match of his profession: a five-set semifinal towards Alexander Zverev, which lasted three hours and 32 minutes.

“It was just exhausting. It was nerve-wracking. So intense,” stated Tsitsipas after he was capable of eek out the win.

The ultimate towards Djokovic two days later additionally went to a deciding set and Tsitsipas appeared to expire of fuel late within the match. That should not be a problem for him this time round. The 24-year-old has dropped simply three units en path to the ultimate and is fitter than he was 18 months in the past when he made his French Open run.

A lot of Tsitsipas’ success this fortnight at Melbourne Park has come as a byproduct of his aggressiveness. Tsitsipas is aware of he cannot simply place himself behind the baseline and rally with Djokovic, who wins a better price of factors with over 9 pictures performed than anybody else within the sport.

As a substitute, shorter factors may even be a part of the Tsitsipas sport plan. Over his previous two matches, Tsitsipas has received 44 extra factors than his opponent when factors are held to 4 pictures or fewer. Holding the factors brief will not simply see him win extra of them, however may even frustrate Djokovic as he will not have the ability to settle into rallies.

An aggressive Tsitsipas is sweet sufficient to dictate proceedings for levels of this remaining. Such technique was key to success in his semifinal win over Khachanov, the place he struck 66 winners and simply 34 unforced errors by means of 4 units. In distinction, his fourth-round win over Italian Jannik Sinner featured a extra conservative sport plan, and Tsitsipas was taken to 5 units.

After which there’s the matter of Djokovic’s thriller harm. Whereas he has appeared completely unstoppable at varied levels of the event, he has been battling a proper hamstring harm, which he admitted might flare up at any level.

“Tennis is a very quick, very dynamic sport. Things can change in a matter of moments. I didn’t feel anything today [but] I don’t want to celebrate too early. I know things can change really quickly,” Djokovic stated after his fourth-round win over de Minaur.

It is to not say Tsitsipas wants to depend on Djokovic’s hamstring inflicting him issues if he is any probability to win, nevertheless it’s actually an space of concern within the Djokovic camp. Ought to the match prolong into a 3rd or fourth hour, the pressure might show decisive. It is actually one thing price maintaining tabs on.

And at last, if his first six matches in Melbourne are any indicator, Tsitsipas could have the overwhelming majority of assist within the remaining. A big Greek contingent have been turning out every time Tsitsipas takes to Rod Laver Area, and the identical could be anticipated once more on Sunday.

Why Novak Djokovic will win

Is there any option to cease a extremely motivated and decided Djokovic?

The Serbian is not simply wanting to attract stage with Rafael Nadal for essentially the most main titles in males’s tennis. He is additionally eyeing some redemption after being deported from Australia simply 12 months earlier.

Historical past is on his aspect, too. Djokovic has an eye-watering 85-5 file on the Australian Open since 2008 and is a staggering 19-0 in semifinals and finals matches at Melbourne Park. The truth is, the final time Djokovic misplaced at Rod Laver Area, Tsitsipas was barely ranked on this planet’s prime 100.

Djokovic additionally has the clear edge in his rivalry with Tsitsipas, having received the final 9 matches, together with their two Grand Slam clashes (each of which got here on the French Open). He has each purpose to be assured forward of his thirty third main remaining.

“The experience of being in this particular situation and circumstances before helps. Also the fact that I never lost the Australian Open final definitely serves as a great confidence booster prior to Sunday,” Djokovic stated after crushing American Tommy Paul within the semifinals. “But, of course, still, the job needs to be done on the court.”

Djokovic has been ruthless in his run to the ultimate. He misplaced simply 5 video games to de Minaur within the fourth spherical earlier than holding Andrey Rublev to seven in a quarterfinal.

Paul appeared set to supply an actual take a look at within the semifinals, however after profitable the primary set 7-5, Djokovic coughed up simply three extra video games for the match. He is misplaced only one set of tennis this complete event.

Whereas his serve has been dependable, Djokovic is as soon as once more doing the harm on his return video games. Few would argue Djokovic is not the best returner the game has ever seen, together with his seamless capacity to transition from protection into assault. At this 12 months’s Australian Open, he’s profitable 40% of factors when his opponent hits a primary serve (ranked third), and 60% once they hit a second serve (ranked fifth). He is the one participant to rank within the prime 5 in each classes.

One other space the place Djokovic has a bonus over Tsitsipas, and nearly anybody else on the planet, is within the error division. The semifinal match towards Paul was considerably of an anomaly with Djokovic making an uncharacteristic 39 unforced errors, although most got here early within the match. Djokovic will make Tsitsipas play ball after ball, forcing him into errors. He is unlikely to launch the strain with errors of his personal.

However maybe Djokovic’s best power is his capacity to provide in clutch moments. A few of his greatest tennis of the event has are available clutch conditions, similar to the primary set tie-breaker towards Grigor Dimitrov again within the third spherical, and once more at 5-5 within the first set of his semifinal towards Paul. He simply finds methods to win factors he wants.

Tsitsipas has additionally been susceptible to some errors this event. In his semifinal win over Khachanov, he had three foot faults and was given two time violations earlier than the second set had been accomplished. Towards Djokovic, these errors will virtually actually be punished.

What is going to occur?

What’s Djokovic’s win streak as much as at Melbourne Park? 27 matches? Yeah, it may be very robust to choose towards him, no matter who he is enjoying and the way in-form that opponent is likely to be. Assuming his proper hamstring does not trigger him issues, Djokovic will win this match in 4 entertaining units. And let’s face it, even when his leg does give him grief, a four-set win continues to be the probably end result.