On Sunday, Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas will go head-to-head on the tennis court for the 13th time, this time with the Australian Open championship on the line.
“I respect him a lot,” Djokovic said about Tsitsipas. “He has improved over the years. I actually think he is one of the most interesting guys off tour, with his interests off the court, his hairstyle and all, but it’s all business on Sunday for both of us. Let the better player win.”
Both players won their respective semifinal matches in relatively routine fashion on Friday to set up the championship clash. Tsitsipas was the first to move through as he ousted Karen Khachanov 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3.
“These are the moments I’ve been working hard for. To be able to play finals like this, but finals that have bigger meaning than just a final,” said Tsitsipas. “It’s a Grand Slam final, I’m fighting for the No.1 spot. It’s a childhood dream to be capturing the No. 1 spot one day. I’m close. I’m happy that this opportunity comes here in Australia and not somewhere else, because this is a place of significance.”
Tsitsipas twice led by a break in the opening set but Khachanov was able to get the set back on serve each time to send the first to a tiebreaker. The third-seed from Greece regrouped to play some of his best tennis in the breaker to take the early advantage in the match.
Tsitsipas would find his footing on his serve and began to dominate with it, only facing one break point throughout the rest of the match.
“I feel blessed for the fact that I’m able to play tennis at this level,” said Tsitsipas. “I’ve been wanting for many years now to put Greek tennis on the map.”
He will look to lift the first major trophy of his career when he faces Djokovic on Sunday. The fourth-seeded Serb knocked out American Tommy Paul with a 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 victory in his semifinal match on Friday.
“I was really fortunate to hold my nerve toward the end of the first set,” said Djokovic. “It was a key. After that I started swinging through the ball more, so I’m just really pleased to get through to another final.”
Djokovic is 10-2 all-time against Tsitsipas, including a win in the 2021 French Open finals.
“Winning Grand Slams and being the No. 1 in the world are probably the two biggest peaks that you can climb as a professional tennis player,” added Djokovic. “Let’s see what happens.”