Tennis

Novak Djokovic on cloud 9 with ninth Australian Open title

Serb overcomes gruelling campaign to defeat Medvedev for ninth Australian Open title

Novak Djokovic said his ninth Australian Open title came after one of the toughest tournaments of his career, with a muscle-tear injury that is still "not healed" and attacks from the media and public.

Despite the challenges, the world No. 1 snuffed out the threat from Russian Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 to reinforce his status as the king of Melbourne Park and collect his 18th Grand Slam crown yesterday.

But there were numerous hurdles to jump, not least having to quarantine for 14 days and the negative reaction to a letter he wrote to Tennis Australia pre-tournament which was interpreted as a "petulant and selfish" list of demands.

"Emotionally it was one of the hardest tournaments that I've ever had, to be honest," the Serbian top seed told Australia's Channel Nine.

"We had quarantine and a lot of things happening in the media, then the letter that I wrote as ideas and recommendations that I got for players was misinterpreted as a list of demands. Then the next thing I was persona non grata here in this country."

"So it was tough dealing with all of this and then getting injured in the third round," he added of the abdominal tear that almost forced him to pull out.

"It was a rollercoaster ride... it makes it even sweeter for me and a lot of positives from this tournament without a doubt."

Djokovic sustained the injury during his third-round clash against American Taylor Fritz.

After refusing during the tournament to reveal the nature of the injury, he said yesterday it was an abdominal muscle tear.

"I guess we're all different. I have maybe a great ability to heal. I don't know. I just manage somehow with pills and painkillers and stuff."

The nine-time Australian Open champion revealed that at one stage, he spent 10 out of 14 waking hours on the physio's table to get work done.

"It's not healed up. I'm going to go for another MRI tomorrow before I travel. I'm definitely going to take some time off. I don't know how long it's going to take," he said.

Djokovic's win over Medvedev strengthened his hold on world No. 1, where he will mark his 311th week when the new rankings come out on Monday, surpassing Federer's record of 310.

He has won six Grand Slam titles after the age of 30, equalling Nadal's record.

"Never easy to speak when you just lost a final of a Grand Slam," said Medvedev.

"But I'll try to do my best... First of all, congrats to Novak and your team. Nine Grand Slams in Australia. 18 in total is amazing and probably not your last one. I have no words to say." - AFP, REUTERS

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