Novak Djokovic apologised to his team after attempting to kick them out from his Adelaide final against Sebastian Korda after he saved a championship point to beat the 22-year-old 6-7(8) 7-6(3) 6-4 and lift his 92nd career title. The world No 5 thanked his team for “handling and tolerating” him after he directed his frustrations towards them after losing the opening set.
Djokovic came through a rollercoaster final in Adelaide to lift his 92nd career title, tying long-time rival Rafael Nadal. The world No 5 cemented himself as the heavy favourite for the Australian Open – which starts in nine days’ time -but had to battle to come out with the victory after losing a close 73-minute opening set and saving a championship point in set number two.
Tensions boiled over during the neck-and-neck final, with the top seed gesturing to his team as though he wanted them to leave at the conclusion of the first set, where he blew two set points while Korda needed seven to get over the line. Sitting on his bench at the changeover, Djokovic could be heard shouting at members of his box before his bother Marko and his agent were seen walking out.
But he managed to turn things around and force a second set tiebreak, where he won to take the match the distance and secure a three-set victory in three hours and nine minutes. During his winner’s speech, the 35-year-old congratulated Korda on his performance before acknowledging his own behaviour towards his team.
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“I want to say a few words to Seb and his team, amazing tournament, amazing effort today,” Djokovic started. “I’d probably say that you were closer to victory today than I was. It was decided in one or two shots, one or two points but the future is bright for you and you’re amazing player so well done.”
He then turned his attention to his own team, continuing: “I’d like to thank my team for handling me, for tolerating me in good and bad times today.” Referencing his outburst at the end of the first set, he added: “I’m sure they didn’t have such a blast with me going back and forth with them but I appreciate them being here.”
After his brother was spotted leaving his box following Djokovic’s gestures, the top seed also gave him a special message and added: “My brother Marko is also here and I don’t see him that much so I appreciate him coming here, I love you.”
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The 35-year-old also thanked the crowd, who had turned out in droves all week to support him and wave Serbian flags, as he admitted they made him feel as though he was playing at home. “It’s been amazing week and you fuys made it even more special for me to be standing here,” he told them.
“It’s a gift definitely, I gave it all today and throughout the week in order to get my hands on the trophy and the support I’ve been getting the last ten days is something I don’t thank I’ve experienced too many times in my life so thank you so much everyone for supporting and coming out. It definitely felt like playing at home, that’s for sure and you guys made me feel very welcome so thank you so much from bottom of my heart.”