How Novak Djokovic's 2195-Day Streak Came To An End At Australian Open

How Novak Djokovic's 2195-Day Streak Came To An End At Australian Open

by Nurein Ahmed

The prelude to this year's Australian Open semifinals was that Novak Djokovic was not fond of losing at this stage of the Melbourne Slam.

It's been six years since the gregarious Serb was reduced to a mere mortal and, in his human power at the Australian Open, beaten by an energetic and fast-rising South Korean, Hyeon Chung. And the rest, as they say, is history.

However, the trajectories of both players did not turn out as envisaged. Several onlookers felt that Djokovic, who opted to undergo elbow surgery following that defeat, was done and dusted from rediscovering his elite status and competing for Grand Slams on a regular basis.

Chung, who won the Next Gen ATP Finals at the back end of the previous season, was destined for greatness and was the real deal. But how the script changed melodramatically.

Djokovic quickly got his mojo back within a span of a few months, winning two Grand Slams and completing the Golden Masters that year. Chung faded from the limelight and has since become the forgotten man of men's tennis.

Djokovic went on a winning spree, 33 matches to be exact, which is a record-equalling streak at the Australian Open in the Open Era. What was even more impressive was that he had never lost in the semifinal or final of the so-called "Happy Slam."

If there was the safest bet in sports, it had to be Djokovic navigating his way past the rapidly improving Jannik Sinner on Friday afternoon. It was inevitable, even in distress, having battled a wrist injury and a viral infection at the tournament.

Sinner led the defending champion 6-1, 6-2 and even held a match point in the third set tie-break, and no sentient being inside Rod Laver Arena believed Djokovic would lose.

Momentarily, Djokovic stopped the rot, getting shape into his forehand and picking his spots on serve to win the third set. After saving three break points in his first hold of serve in the fourth set, it felt like rewatching a familiar episode.

But nothing would dent Sinner's confidence this time. He had played out of his mind all fortnight. He kept pummelling the ball with serious zeal and eventually got the break he needed in the fourth game of the fourth set. It proved decisive, and Sinner did not let Djokovic off the hook on his second match point.

This is Djokovic's first defeat since Chung planted a seed of doubt in his mind in 2018, exactly 2,195 days ago, and ended his pursuit of a record-extending 11th Australian Open.


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