Remorseful Djokovic ‘not proud’ of Open meltdown

Novak Djokovic has apologised for his outbursts in the Australian Open final, saying his actions were "in the heat of the battle".

Djokovic claimed an eighth Australian Open title on Sunday night with a five-set victory over Austrian counterpart Dominic Thiem, but sparked debate when he appeared to yell in reaction to the Melbourne crowd and touched French chair umpire Damien Dumusois in a heated exchange.

The Serbian star had been hit with two time violations for taking too long to serve, and tapped Dumusois' foot on the change of ends, lashing him and saying "you made yourself famous, well done".

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But after a night's sleep, Djokovic said he was "not happy" with his actions.

"In a professional sport, things happen that obviously you're not proud of," he said.

"Sometimes you do things that you're not happy with and you go through different emotions, you go through ups and downs.

"Of course, I'm not happy that I touched the chair umpire. And I'm sorry if I offended him or anybody else.

"But in the heat of the battle, some decisions that he makes or some decision that happens just distracts you and sets you off the balance a little bit. I just tried to re-centre myself and it all ended up well for me.

 

Novak Djokovic had a running battle with chair umpire Damien Dumusois. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty
Novak Djokovic had a running battle with chair umpire Damien Dumusois. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty

 

"Hopefully people in the stadium and the ones that watched enjoyed the battle."

Djokovic said that celebrations had not yet reached full swing given how late the match finished.

The victory took the 32-year-old's grand slam count to 17 - two behind Rafael Nadal and three behind Roger Federer, who has the most single titles of any player with 20.

And Djokovic maintained that chasing the record is definitely on his mind, but he would have to be "precise" in plotting his assault on more grand slams.

"Yes it is. I'm not going to lie to you and say that it's not," he said.

"Of course it is. And I understand that I'm not in my 20s, so obviously things are a bit different and I have to be more precise and more organised in my preparations for the grand slam and try to prioritise these tournaments, because historically they are the most important ones in our sport.

"Federer and Nadal are obviously still competing at a very high level, and we have Dominic Thiem, (Alexander) Zverev, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, (Daniil) Medvedev as leaders of a new generation and guys that are challenging the three of us for grand slam titles.

"Eventually they will start winning the major titles - hopefully not too soon … we'll make sure that it doesn't happen too soon.

"I'm obviously thrilled to be in a position to still be in the mix in terms of the conversation for most grand slam titles. At this stage of my career, of my life, that's professionally what matters most."

Djokovic will now take a break from tennis to spend time with his family.

He marked the win yesterday by returning to one of his favourite places in Melbourne - the Royal Botanic Gardens, which he described as an "oasis" and home to his favourite tree.

"I don't take any title for granted, especially after winning many Australian Opens," he said.

"I still feel every year is different and every year is special."


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