Australian Open 2023: Novak Djokovic beats Stefanos Tsitsipas to win 22nd Grand Slam title, tying Rafael Nadal

Djokovic won two tiebreakers on his way to a straight-set victory in the men's final and is once again the No. 1 player in the world

It took an extra year, but Novak Djokovic is exactly where he intended to be: at the top. He defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) to win the 2023 Australian Open, his record-tying 22nd Grand Slam victory.

Djokovic was dominant against Tsitsipas for the entire match, especially during the tiebreakers, He scored the final three points of the first tiebreaker to win 7-4, then built a 5-0 lead in the second. It got as close as 6-5 before Djokovic closed out the match — and ascended to the No. 1 ranking in the world.

His reactions after the win said it all.

"I have to repeat it over and over again, but this trophy is as much yours as it is mine," Djokovic said to the cheering crowd after the win. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful support.

"I have to say this has been one of the most challenging tournaments I've ever played in my life ... Only the team and family know what we've been through the last four or five weeks. This probably is the biggest victory in my life, considering the circumstances."

The last 12 months haven't been easy for Djokovic. A year ago he was deported from Australia just days before the tournament started due to his choice to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. Instead of Djokovic winning record-setting 21st Grand Slam title, as many expected him to, Rafael Nadal won his record-setting 21st Grand Slam title. Nadal then went on to win his 22nd major championship at the 2022 French Open.

While Djokovic managed to win his 21st major title at Wimbledon about six months after his deportation, his vaccination choice also prevented him from entering the United States, which does not allow unvaccinated visitors into the country. He missed several events on the Tour and couldn't compete at the US Open, which Carlos Alcaraz ended up winning.

Djokovic may have been absent over the past year, but that was because of his own decisions and not the quality of his tennis. His sweep to the top over the past two weeks is essentially an announcement that he's back and picking up where he left off, casually asserting his dominance over the sport like few of his peers can. The path to every major trophy still goes through him.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup trophy following his victory against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in the men's singles final match of the Australian Open. (Photo by PAUL CROCK/AFP via Getty Images)