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“Of course, I’m not happy I touched the chair umpire.

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“I’m sorry if I offended him or anyone else, but in the heat of a battle, some decisions that he makes or something that happens distracts you and sets you off the balance a little bit, and I just tried to rebalance myself and it all ended up well for me.

“But hopefully people in the stadium and the ones that watched enjoyed the battle.”

Djokovic also struggled physically on the night.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening,” he said.

“I didn’t have any injuries and it was very strange to me because I’ve done things pretty much the same as I always do.

“My energy completely collapsed. Every time I would toss the ball, I would feel dizzy.”

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After seeking treatment from the tournament doctor, Djokovic, who also lost his cool at the pro-Thiem crowd during the first set, fought back from 2-1 down to win the final two sets and claim his 17th major.

The win brought him within two titles of Rafael Nadal and three of record-holder Roger Federer.

The 32-year-old said Federer’s record was a driving factor deep in the second half of his career.

“I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s not, of course it is,” he said.

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy at the Botanic Gardens.

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy at the Botanic Gardens.Credit:Simon Schluter

“I understand that I’m not in my 20s, so things are a bit different and I have to be more precise and more organised in my preparations for the grand slam and try and prioritise these tournaments because historically they are the most important in our sport.

“Federer and Nadal are obviously still competing at a very high level and we have Dominic Thiem, [Alexander] Zverev, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, [Daniil] Medvedev, as leaders of the new generation and guys that are challenging the three of us for grand slam titles.

“Eventually they will start winning the major titles and hopefully not too soon, we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen too soon, but I’m obviously thrilled to still be in a position to still be in the mix in terms of conversation for the most grand slam titles.

“At this stage of my career and life, that’s professionally what matters the most.”

Djokovic said his team led the celebrations on Sunday night before his eighth Australian Open title really began to sink in.

“I left them for a couple of hours while I was doing media. I came back and saw a lot of mess in the locker room made by my team but they did seem like they had fun and enjoyed it,” he said.

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“They didn’t drink much, I’m glad, but it was too late to really go anywhere or do anything so we just crashed back in the room and today is obviously a different feeling to last night.

“I was pretty exhausted and kind of deflated and it was difficult to comprehend.

“Today, I just feel relieved that it’s over. It feels great that I managed to get another title and finish it off with a successful week.”

Djokovic returned to No.1 in the men’s singles rankings, with Thiem jumping Medvedev in fourth, while Aussie Nick Kyrgios shot up six spots to 20th.

Damien Ractliffe is the Chief Racing Reporter for The Age.

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