Novak Djokovic’s preparations for a return to the Australian Open are on course after he was able to tough out a victory over a game Sebastian Korda in the final of the Adelaide International 1 on Sunday night.
Djokovic wasn’t at his best but was able to win the big points when it mattered to claim his 92nd tour title with a 6-7(8) 7-6(3) 6-4 win over the American.
The match lasted more than three hours, giving Djokovic some valuable time on court in Australian conditions ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2023.
MORE: ‘This year is my year’ – Bernard Tomic backs himself for top 100 despite Australian Open snub
Djokovic had defeated both Daniil Medvedev and Denis Shapovalov in the semis and quarters respectively to ensure he’ll go into the Australian Open as hot favourite to claim a 10th title at Melbourne Park and draw level with Rafael Nadal on 22 major victories.
Korda provided some stern resistance for the Serbian star, taking out a tight first set in a tie-breaker.
The 22-year-old then had a look at a championship point up 6-5 and 40:30 in the second set but couldn’t convert as Djokovic ratcheted up the level of his game, winning the point with a clutch overhead smash.
Djokovic would go on a run of 17 points from the next 20 to swing the contest in his favour, ultimately helping him claim the deciding set.
Following the match, the 35-year-old was full of praise when addressing his opponent.
“Amazing tournament, amazing effort today,” Djokovic said.
“I’d probably say that you were closer to victory today than I was.
“It was decided in one or two shots, one or two points, tough luck today but the future is bright for you.
“Just keep going, you’re an amazing player.”
Djokovic is returning to Australia for the first time since the drama which saw him excluded from last year’s Australian Open and ended in the cancellation of his visa.
After the match, Djokovic thanked the fans in Adelaide for the warm welcome he was given.
“It’s been an amazing week and you guys made it even more special for me. To be standing here, is a gift definitely,” he added.
“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 last 10 days was something that I don’t think I’ve experienced too many times in my life.
“Thank you so much everyone for coming out. It definitely felt like playing at home.”
In the women’s Adelaide International 1 draw, Aryna Sabalenka defeated Linda Noskova 6-3 7-6(4).
The Australian Open gets underway in Melbourne on January 16.