For Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will meet today in the final of the Australian Open, the tournament in Melbourne is by a large margin the favorite tournament among the four Grand Slams.
The Serbian has lifted this trophy nine times before, and with the victory over the American Tommy Paul in the semi-finals, he set a record of 26 consecutive victories in the tournament, stretching back to 2018. Previously, he set another streak of 25 victories in Australia.
Although the Greek did not get to lift the trophy, today he will play in the Australian final for the first time in his career after three appearances in the semi-finals.
In the USA and Wimbledon, for comparison, there has never been a fourth round. "For me, this Grand Slam is my home!" Tsitsipas declared at the end of the victory over Karen Khachanov in the semi-finals.
There are a variety of reasons for the success of the two - in relation to themselves, of course - in this tournament.
First, both Tsitsipas and Djokovic know how to bring themselves to the peak already at the beginning of the season.
Both get along with the fast surface, deal with the weather and above all enjoy the support of a "home" crowd.
The Greek fans in the stands.
Supporters of Tsitsipas all the way, photo: Reuters
In the case of Tsitsipas, this is particularly evident.
Australia has the largest Greek-speaking community in the world outside of Greece and Cyprus, almost half a million people of Greek origin, whose voices are heard in the games of the fourth ranked in the world.
At the entrance to the court complex in Melbourne there are Greek food stalls selling foods with names dedicated to Greek tennis players, including the hit "The Stef" named after the finalist.
"There are a lot of Greek-Australians here, and they treat me amazing," said Tsitsipas, "I feel a connection to these people, and it makes me feel good."
Djokovic also has a supportive community here.
Although smaller, about 100,000 Serbs who this year are cheering for their big star, and who last year fought for his participation in the tournament in the shadow of the vaccination affair.
"The communities of Serbia and Greece are very large here," Nola said, "and I hope there won't be any problems between them and that everyone will come to cheer."
Djokovic with the Serbian fans.
Followed by fire and water, photo: AP
Nadal Valquers on alert
Meanwhile, that's exactly what's happening.
The atmosphere at the Serbian and Greek games is very homely.
In the stands you can see flags, shirts and signs, and you can hear cheering songs reminiscent of Davis Cup meetings.
It is evident that this support pushed the two forward.
"I grew up in a place that is very reminiscent of Australia. Not too humid and not too tropical," Tsitsipas explained, adding: "The French have Roland Garros, the Americans have the US Championship, the English have Wimbledon and I have the Australian Championship."
Today, more than ever, Tsitsipas and Djokovic need the push of their audience.
The Greek needs him to win the first Grand Slam title in his career, while the Serbian wants his tenth title in Melbourne and 22nd in his career - equal to Rafael Nadal's record.
On top of that, there's a bonus prize for the winner: he'll dethrone Carlos Alquers and climb to No. 1 in the world.
About to share the record with Djokovic?, Photo: EPA
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