AO2023: Perfect 10 launches Djokovic level

Novak Djokovic keeps defying the odds and after a herculean effort at Melbourne Park is back at the summit of men's tennis.

Novak Djokovic / Finale Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Novak Djokovic is just built different.

A fortnight ago the Serbian's attempts to re-write the history books lay in tatters.

His coach Goran Ivanisevic gives the inside look…

"I don't say 100 percent, but 97 percent of the players, when you get results of the MRI, you go straight to the referee office and pull out of the tournament. But not him," revealed the Croatian.

"He is from other space. His brain is working different. I'm with him four years, but it still (surprises) sometimes how his brain works."

Zip through the Australian Open and on Sunday night Djokovic let his gladiatorial guard down into an outpouring of emotion, collapsing to the floor in tears.

The left hamstring injury, a handful of off-court factors, chasing down era-defining history had left Djokovic completely drained.

"I have to say this has been one of the most challenging tournaments I have ever played in my life considering the circumstances, not playing last year, coming back this year," said the 35-year-old.

"I try to pinch myself and really live through these moments. It's a long journey. Only the team and the family knows what we have been through in the last four or five weeks.

"I would say this is probably the biggest victory of my life."

Novak Djokovic / Finale Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

In the final Djokovic delivered another classic Novak performance of defiance and immense defence, combined with highlight-reel tennis 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) to dispatch world No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Here come the stats.

Holding the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup once again, Djokovic had claimed his mind-boggling 10th Australian Open title.

Novak Djokovic & Stefanos Tsitsipas / Finale Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

In doing so, Djokovic draws level with his perennial 'Big Three' Rafael Nadal on 22 majors at the top of the men's all-time list.

Just to top it off, the 35-year-old will return to world No.1 on Monday to begin his men's record-extending 374th week at the summit.

The stats and accomplishments are astonishing, Djokovic's on-court standard continued to raise the bar, where he finished Down Under 12-0 in matches, winning 31 of 33 sets from Adelaide to Melbourne.

Novak Djokovic / Finale Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

"In terms of the quality of the tennis, it's honestly some of the best tennis I've played on this court," claimed Djokovic, up to 28 successive victories on Rod Laver Arena.

"As good as I've played maybe 2011 or '15 or '16 or those years where I really had some very strong, strong seasons and strong Australian Opens. I would rank it right up there."

Age or rivals or injuries don't seem to be derailing Djokovic. In a parting shot down the rankings, the re-crowned world No.1 is fiercely intent on more legacy-building glory.

"Of course, I am motivated to win as many slams as possible. At this stage of my career, these trophies are the biggest motivational factor of why I still compete. That's the case without a doubt," stated the Serbian.

"I still have lots of motivation. Let's see how far it takes me. I don't have intention to stop here. I feel great about my tennis. Of course, 35 is not 25, even though I want to believe it is. But I still feel there is time ahead of me.

"I know that when I'm feeling good physically, mentally present, I have a chance to win any slam against anybody. I like my chances going forward."

Next stop on the Grand Slam stage, Roland-Garros 2023. Rafael Nadal on 22 majors, Djokovic on 22. Who will make the next move in Paris?