Australian Open: Djokovic reaches for the 22nd Grand Slam title – sport

At the end of the third set it got really loud and some of the spectators who supported Stefanos Tsitsipas this Friday afternoon were suffering now, you could see that. The 24-year-old Greek was close to winning this semi-final, falling just a few points on several occasions. With a 7: 6 (2), 6: 4, 5: 4 lead, he served to win and didn’t take the opportunity. It was a tie-break, whoever gets seven points first gets the set. 6: 4 for Tsitsipas, the 15,000 people in the Rod Laver Arena cheered, many stood. A man with a Greek flag clasped his hands and begged the sky. “The Greek god of tennis” was written on a sign held by a young woman in the main stadium of the Australian Open.

Then the unexpected happened: Tsitsipas’ opponent, the Russian Karen Chatschanow, 26, plucked up all the courage and went on the offensive, first forehand winner, 5: 6 from his point of view, next rally, another winning stroke with the forehand. Two points later Khachanov threw up his arms. He had saved himself in the fourth set. The crowd went wild.

But one man sat quietly in his seat. He leaned forward slightly and chatted with his neighbors. Later, during a conversation in the player’s restaurant with the SZ, Thomas Tuchel explained with a smile how much he, when everyone was freaking out, when everyone involved in Tsitsipas’ box had risen, Papa Apostolos, the second coach Mark Philippoussis, Patricia Apey, the manager, had savored that exact moment. “People have said to me, stay calm,” said the football coach, “but you can see that it’s not that easy when you’re involved yourself.” He smiled. Tuchel looked wonderfully relaxed.

Thomas Tuchel is a big tennis fan and completed his personal Grand Slam by visiting the Australian Open.

(Photo: Frank Molter/dpa)

The 49-year-old, who was dismissed as a coach at Chelsea FC last September and is currently without a club, is in Melbourne for a few days, he came specifically for the tennis event; Olaf Meinking, his adviser, and a friend from his youth are accompanying him, it is a special visit. Tuchel has now managed the Grand Slam – as a spectator. He was still missing the Australian Open. He has already been to the French Open, the US Open and Wimbledon.

He himself now enthusiastically plays padel tennis when he gets around to it. In March, for example, Tuchel may be back on the road again. Tommy Haas had just met him and invited him to Indian Wells. The former top German player is Tournament Director of the Southern California event. “Indian Wells is called the fifth Grand Slam, I would like to go there,” said Tuchel. When you will see him back in action as a football coach, he answered politely with the words: “He’ll take care of it, we’ll see.” He pointed to Meinking, who nodded with a smile.

The final, especially for men, should be one of the most atmospheric

The unusual thing is that Tuchel’s story in Melbourne and the stories that the Australian Open experienced after two weeks of continuous tennis flow into one another. That’s because Tuchel has the best contacts with one of the most successful tennis player agents. He was helped with the tickets by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the Qatari President of Paris Saint-Germain, who was himself an excellent tennis player. In Melbourne, on the other hand, Tuchel is in contact with Patricio Apey. The Chilean, who used to look after Alexander Zverev, now has a portfolio of professionals that many consultants envy. And these are just shiny.

Australian Open: Novak Djokovic's final opponent: Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Novak Djokovic’s opponent in the final: Stefanos Tsitsipas.

(Photo: Loren Elliott/Reuters)

In the women’s final on Saturday is the Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina – she is an Apey player. Tsitsipas, who won the fourth set against Chatschanov and thus the semifinals, is in the men’s final on Sunday with 7: 6 (2), 6: 4, 6: 7 (6), 6: 3 – he is an Apey player. Sebastian Korda also fought in the quarterfinals. The 22-year-old US professional, son of Petr Korda, who won at the Australian Open in 1998, had to give up injured – he too is an Apey player. And because Tuchel has a good connection to the agent, he sits in the Rod Laver Arena within earshot of Apey and the player box. “It’s really great to be here,” said Tuchel, who can witness the drama of the final acts up close.

The final, especially for men, should be one of the most atmospheric. For one thing, no city outside of Greece has as many Greeks as Melbourne, a good 180,000. “The French have Roland Garros, the British have Wimbledon, the Americans have the US Open,” said Tsitsipas. “I would call it my home slam.” With a win, he could not only win his first Grand Slam title, but also become number one in the world rankings. “I play great tennis, I enjoy myself,” said Tsitsipas confidently.

On the other hand, Djokovic has numerous Serbian supporters in Melbourne, who also supported him in the 7: 5, 6: 1, 6: 2 win against the American Tommy Paul, 25, who was in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time. Djokovic seemed unsteady for a long time, even a 5-1 lead hadn’t given him any stability. He later admitted that the excitement about his father naturally bothered him.

The Djokovics are against any form of war, says Novak in defense of his father

After his son’s quarter-final victory against the Russian Andrei Rublev, Srdjan Djokovic had himself filmed with Russian fans close to Putin, who had caused a scandal on Wednesday evening by waving flags. A man standing next to father Djokovic wore the letter ‘Z’ on his shirt, which in Russia is seen as a sign of support for the war against Ukraine. Authorities were investigating four men but, to calm things down, Srdjan surprised the club on Friday by declaring that he would not be watching his son’s semi-final at the stadium. Djokovic assured that his father went to the – as he thought – Serbian supporters with the best of intentions. He emphasized that his family experienced the war themselves at the time, that the Djokovics are of course against any form of war. Srdjan? “He was abused by a group of people in that situation.”

There is now a Grand Slam final reunion for Djokovic and Tsitsipas, they faced each other for the first time at the French Open 2021 in the last tournament match, Djokovic had won after a 0-2 set deficit. Now, with a triumph in the leaderboard, he could catch up with Rafael Nadal, who still leads alone with 22 Grand Slam titles. Djokovic now sees a “golden opportunity”.

Tuchel will be watching again with his small tour group, he has often been recognized in the Rod Laver Arena so far, especially the coaching stations in Paris and Chelsea have made him internationally famous. He spoke briefly to Tsitsipas, otherwise he leaves him and Rybakina, the two from Team Apey, alone, “it’s their stage here, I’m holding back”. Djokovic said he hoped everyone would “come and celebrate for tennis”. He can be sure of that with Tuchel. Others have to coach here.

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