Novak Djokovic is honoured to be classed among the greats of the game and says making history motivates him to win even more titles.
Djokovic’s straight-sets demolition of Andy Murray on Sunday ensured the Serb moved level with Roy Emerson’s all-time best six Australian Open crowns.
He also takes his grand slam tally to 11 overall, climbing to joint-fifth in the pantheon of champions alongside Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver.
Above Djokovic and in his sights are Emerson on 12, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal on 14 and, at the top, Roger Federer with 17.
“Every grand slam title is very significant in its own way – here, because I managed to make history and equal Roy Emerson’s six Australian Open titles,” Djokovic said.
“I’m very honoured to be mentioned alongside legends of our sport like Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, and win as many grand slams as they did.
“I can’t lie and say I didn’t think about it. Of course it was in back of my mind. Coming into the court I knew that I had a chance to make history.
“Of course it served as a great motivation, as a great imperative to play my best. I tried not to think about it too much, but it was there as an encouragement and a goal.”
The victory over Murray was Djokovic’s 17th consecutive tournament final, fifth in grand slams and, as a 28-year-old with no serious injury concerns, there are likely to be many more to come.
Silverware did not always come so easy for Djokovic who, after winning his first in 2008, went 11 major tournaments before sealing a second success.
Now, however, he has won five out of the last seven available and the world No 1 says his secret lies in staying true to himself on court.
“There’s something I’ve found out in the previous years in my career is that you can’t separate yourself professionally and privately – you’re the same person,” Djokovic said.
“So all these emotions that are maybe trapped, that occur in your private life, the issues, the problems that we all face, you need to surface them. You need to find a solution.
“In these particular matches when it goes down to very few points, when you’re challenged in every aspect of your being, if there is something under the surface, it will come out and it will play against you. It will be your worst enemy.”
Murray certainly laid bare his off-court issues in Melbourne, admitting after the match he just wanted to go home to see his pregnant wife Kim, who is due to give birth to their first child later this month.
When he returns from his break, the Scot will again set about finding a way to stop Djokovic, who has now beaten him four times in the Australian Open final and won 11 of their last 12 meetings.
“I don’t know how far off I was,” Murray said.
“The first set I wasn’t there but the second and third sets I do think were very close. I do think I could have played a bit better, like I said. I didn’t think I hit my forehand as well as I could have done.
“When I did in the third set, that helped me out a lot. I was able to get myself into the net more. I was able to play more offensive tennis then.
“Most of the matches we played in slams I think have been competitive.
“Whether that looks the same from the outside or not, I don’t know. For a three-set match, two hours and 50 minutes, it was a tough few sets.”