Novak Djokovic scored his 9th Australian Open victory on Sunday with a smile on his face. The 33-year-old world No.1 beat his opponent Daniil Medvedev in under two hours. Medvedev came into the match on a 20-match winning streak, but Djokovic was still able to win his 18th major title.
Djokovic wasn’t sure he was going to get the chance to compete in the Grand Slam after COVID-19 postponed and canceled many major tennis events around the globe this time last year. Because of this, he proposed an exhibition style match. The ATP, which Djokovic was the president of at the time, approved of this idea, but the event came under fire very quickly as health safety precautions were not being met. Djokovic and other players were seen partying via a video that was circulating and a few days later Djokovic announced he and his wife had contracted COVID-19 and the event was canceled. Nick Kyrgios, an Australian rival of Djokovic, tweeted about the exhibition match saying, “Boneheaded decision to go ahead with this ‘exhibition’.”
Djokovic then became the center of yet another COVID-19 controversy just months later in New York. He claimed he might not attend the US Open because the virus protocols would limit him from bringing only one person on the court with him. He did end up playing in the tournament, until he was disqualified. When playing Carreno Busta, Djokovic became frustrated and took a spare ball out of his pocket, hitting it across the back of the court and hitting a line person in the throat. Although he immediately ran to assist the injured, referee Soeren Friemel disqualified Djokovic for this move.
Despite the string of trouble and controversy, Novak Djokovic was able to pull through to victory on Sunday. He said of the win, “The more I win, the better I feel coming back each year. The love affair keeps going.”