"I am lucky that at this stage of my career, there is a particular issue at almost every tournament, and in particular in those of the Grand Slams", underlines the 35-year-old Serb, more hungry than jaded.

"These are the moments I work a lot for. There is more than one victory in these big matches. And I'm happy that this chance is here," said the 24-year-old Greek.


The 22nd Grand Slam title or the first

Expelled from Australia last year before the start of the tournament, Djokovic could only observe, helpless, the strong comeback of Rafael Nadal who had taken a step ahead in the race for Grand Slam titles with a 21st major coronation (20 for Djokovic and Federer).

A few months later, the Spaniard pushed his advantage at Roland-Garros.

Winner then at Wimbledon but banned from entering the United States for the US Open, the Serb can therefore return to Nadal on Sunday.

Serbian Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-final against American Tommy Paul in Melbourne, January 27, 2023 © WILLIAM WEST / AFP

"It's exactly what I had imagined and hoped for when I came to Australia this year: I had every intention of finding myself in a position to fight for a new Australian Open trophy", asserts Djokovic .

Tsitsipas is more about making a dream come true.

"Being here in the final means a lot to me. This is where I played one of my first Grand Slams as a junior and now being in the men's singles final is as important as my first step on a tennis court. tennis,” he explains.


The 10th or the only

Like Nadal at Roland-Garros, Djokovic has never lost in the final in Melbourne where he holds the record of nine titles.

Sunday, it is therefore a tenth Australian trophy that he is aiming for.

“The fact of never having lost an Australian Open final is a big confidence booster,” admits the Serb.

For his part, Tsitsipas will play his second Grand Slam final after losing that of Roland-Garros in 2021 against Djokovic.

And if the immediate objective is a first title in Major, he sees further.

Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas during his Australian Open semi-final against Russian Karen Khachanov in Melbourne, January 27, 2023 © Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP

"Serbia is a very small country, like Greece, and they have produced many very good players. I hope that in Greece we can do like them, namely win several Grand Slam tournaments", underlines Tsitsipas who associates to his dreams of greatness for the country his compatriot Maria Sakkari.


The place of N.1

The winner of the final will dislodge the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz from his place of world No.1.

For Djokovic, it would be a return to the top after a truncated 2022: he holds the record for the number of weeks spent at the top of the world hierarchy (373) and the number of seasons ended in this place (7).

Serbian Novak Djokovic during his Australian Open semi-final against American Tommy Paul in Melbourne on January 27, 2023 © Martin KEEP / AFP

"The Grand Slam tournaments and the place of world No.1 are the two peaks of professional tennis and have always been goals for me. So yes, I want to continue to write the history of my sport", admits bluntly Djokovic.

"I was world No.1 among juniors, now I want to become one among professionals," assumes Tsitsipas, whose best ranking to date is 3rd (2021).


hot duel

Djokovic forgot in a press conference, or pretended to have forgotten, that he had beaten Tsitsipas in the final of Roland-Garros 2021.

A few days later, this final is discussed with Tsitsipas: "I don't remember it", he retorts.

"I play very good tennis. When it doesn't work, I remain very optimistic about the outcome, regardless of the opponent", warns the Greek, stressing that it is this newfound confidence that he has lacked in recent years. .

Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas during his Australian Open semi-final against Russian Karen Khachanov in Melbourne, January 27, 2023 © WILLIAM WEST / AFP

Facing him, Djokovic is full of confidence regarding his game. But his injured left thigh remains unknown.

On the brink of the abyss in the second and third rounds, he then flew over all his matches despite the embarrassment, claiming himself to have thus sent "a message" to his future opponents.

Will Tsitsipas have the weapons to break the elastic Djokovic?

© 2023 AFP