Tennis

Novak Djokovic wins record eighth Australian Open title

Serb now has 17 Majors, will regain world No. 1 ranking today

Novak Djokovic battled through a five-set thriller with Dominic Thiem to maintain his dominance at the Australian Open last night, claiming a record eighth title and returning to world No. 1 in the process.

The indomitable Serb stretched his unbeaten streak this season to 13, but he had to rally from two sets to one down to beat the courageous fifth-seeded Austrian 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a nearly four-hour marathon.

It was his 17th Grand Slam title, moving him within two of Rafael Nadal and three behind Roger Federer on the all-time list.

"This is definitely my favourite court, my favourite stadium in the world and I am blessed to hold this trophy once again," said Djokovic.

Victory at the Rod Laver Arena put him alongside his fellow legends as only the third man in history to win eight or more titles at the same Slam after Nadal (12 at the French Open) and Federer (eight at Wimbledon).

It also ensured he will once again be world No. 1 when the new rankings are released today, usurping the 33-year-old Nadal.

Federer, 38, remains third with Thiem, 26, moving up a place to a career-high fourth.

OVERWHELMING FAVOURITE

Djokovic, 32, was the overwhelming favourite last night, but the supremely fit and fast Thiem always had the weapons to trouble him.

The Serb looked lethargic and out for the count in sets two and three before regaining his mojo after a medical time-out to grind down Thiem.

Djokovic had never before won a Slam final in seven previous attempts when finding himself two sets to one down.

Thiem, one of those touted to break the Big Three's dominance, said: "You and two other guys (Nadal and Federer) brought men's tennis to another level. I am happy I can compete in these times.

"I fell short today, but I hope soon I can compete with you again."

Djokovic told Thiem: "It wasn't meant to be tonight. Tough luck. It was a tough match, but you were very close to winning it.

"You know, you definitely have a lot more time in your career and I'm sure that you will get one of the Grand Slam trophies.

"And more. More than one." - AFP

Tennis