Novak Djokovic prevailed over Sebastian Korda in a pulsating men’s singles Adelaide International final on Sunday night, but not before unleashing and booting two of his support members out of the venue.
Djokovic saved a championship point in the second set and fought back to beat Korda 6-7 (8), 7-6 (3), 6-4, in a match that lasted three hours and nine minutes.
It means the Serbian legend now has a win streak of 34 matches in Australia and is level with Rafael Nadal on 92 ATP titles.
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But so fierce was the pressure heaped on Djokovic that the 21-time singles grand slam champion demanded two members of his box, including his brother Marko, leave the arena after he dropped the first set.
The 35-year-old addressed his outburst in his victory speech.
“I’d like to thank my team for handling me, tolerating me in the good and bad times today,” Djokovic said.
“I’m sure they didn’t have such a blast with me going back and forth with them. But, you know, I appreciate them being here.
“My brother Mark was also here. I don’t see him that much. So, I appreciate you coming here, Mark. Love you.”
Roger Rasheed observed the extraordinary behavior from courtside.
“He got angry. I’s unusual,” Rasheed said at the time on the Nine coverage.
“He pointed to his box and two out of five members are no longer sitting there.
“It’s probably living proof that he wants to win badly, in this final.
“He’s got his game face on, mixed with a bit of anger at the moment.”
Novak calls for exits after first set loss
When Korda hit a forehand long to seal the result, Djokovic clenched his right fist and repeatedly pointed to his head in a nod to his incredible mental power.
He’d appeared to struggle with a left hamstring injury during his semi-final against Daniil Medvedev, raising concern ahead of the Australian Open, but didn’t seem to be affected by the complaint on Sunday night.
Djokovic overcame Constant Lestienne, Quentin Halys, Denis Shapovalov, Medvedev and Korda in his Adelaide International campaign — his first tournament in Australia since his deportation from the country on the cusp of last year’s Melbourne Park major.
“It’s been an amazing week and you guys made it even more special,” Djokovic said to the crowd during the presentation.
“For me to be standing here is a gift, definitely.
“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.”
Djokovic apologizes after exploding at team
Earlier in the evening, Aryna Sabalenka had defeated Linda Nosková in the women’s singles final, winning 6-2, 7-6 (4) to collect her 11th WTA title.
Sabalenka’s victory ended an incredible run by the 18-year-old Nosková, who’d dispatched the brilliant Daria Kasatkina, Victoria Azarenka and Ons Jabeur on her way to the final.
“I want to congratulate (Nosková) on an amazing week,” Sabalenka said.
“I think you’re going to have a great future and 100 per cent appear in many more finals.”
Sunday also saw the USA defeat Italy in Sydney to win the inaugural United Cup, a mixed-gender tournament consisting of 18 teams.
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