Adelaide: World No.5 Novak Djokovic pulled off a remarkable escape to clinch the Adelaide International 1 men’s singles title on Sunday, saving a championship point to beat American Sebastian Korda in the final.
The top seed Serb saved a championship point at 5-6 in the second set before rallying past the American 6-7(8), 7-6(3), 6-4 after a gruelling three hours and nine minutes.
The 22-year-old Korda was on the cusp of becoming the first man since Hyeon Chung in the 2018 Australian Open fourth round to defeat the Serbian Down Under, but his opponent snuffed out his chance with an overhead winner.
This is Djokovic’s 92nd tour-level title from his 131st final.
“It’s been an amazing week and you guys made it even more special. For me to be standing here is a gift, definitely,” Djokovic was quoted as saying during the trophy ceremony. “I gave it all today and throughout the week in order to be able to get my hands on the trophy.
“The support that I’ve been getting in the past 10 days is something that I don’t think I’ve experienced too many times in my life, so thank you so much to everyone for coming out every single match.”
The 35-year-old Serb is now tied with Rafael Nadal at the fourth position in the list of most men’s singles titles in the Open Era, trailing only Jimmy Connors (109), Roger Federer (103) and Ivan Lendl (94). He has won 34 consecutive matches in Australia since the start of 2019.
Djokovic had treatment on his left leg during Saturday’s semifinal win against Daniil Medvedev, but he moved well in an intense baseline exchange on the first point of the match that set the tone for an absorbing match.
The American player played fearless baseline tennis to take the action against the Serbian. With Djokovic serving at 5-6, 30/40 in the second set, Korda needed just one more clutch strike to earn the biggest win of his career.
But Djokovic took the initiative in the point and finished it off by putting away a tricky overhead. From there, he surged through the tie-break and forced a decider.
Despite the disappointment of letting slip his opportunity, Korda continued to battle as he saved two break points at 1-2 and slowed down Djokovic’s momentum.
But at 5-4 in the third set with Korda serving, Djokovic pounced on his first chance to seal his victory. The top seed won 85 per cent of his first-serve points in the match and converted two of his seven break points.