At this year's Australian Open, Djokovic is trying to win his 22nd Grand Slam title in the last 15 years.

On January 27th, 2008—15 years ago to this day—Novak Djokovic won the first Grand Slam title of his career, battling past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in an electric final in Melbourne, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (2).

“I was dreaming of it many times. I was watching a lot of legends in the sport lifting up Grand Slam trophies, so I wished to be in that situation one day,” a 20-year-old Djokovic said afterwards.

“It’s like a dream come true.”

Djokovic had been getting closer and closer to his first major title the year before, reaching his first two semifinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and then breaking through to his first final at the US Open, where he fell to Roger Federer in three tight sets.

In Australia, he closed the deal—ranked No. 3 in the world at the time, he made it all the way to the final without dropping a set, including avenging that US Open defeat to world No. 1 Federer in the semifinals, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (5), and then ended the fairytale run of Tsonga in a three-hour, five-minute championship match.

The unseeded, No. 38-ranked Tsonga had taken out three Top 10 players—No. 9 Andy Murray, No. 8 Richard Gasquet and, most famously, No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals—en route to his first major final, where he wasn’t just a set up on Djokovic, but almost pushed the match to five sets, after bringing up break point with the world No. 3 serving at 5-all in the fourth set.

But Djokovic dug out of that game and was unstoppable in the fourth set tie-break, and after one last inside out Tsonga forehand landed just wide, Djokovic dropped to the court.


Fast forward to today, and Djokovic has nine Australian Open titles, the all-time men's record—and he's going for No.10 this year.

Fast forward to today, and Djokovic has nine Australian Open titles, the all-time men's record—and he's going for No.10 this year.

Djokovic was asked afterwards whether, when he was growing up, he believed his dreams would one day become reality.

“I always believed, you know, I always believed,” he replied.

“I didn’t want to think in a negative way. I always had a big support, especially from my parents, my father—you know, I think he always believed more in me than I did in myself.

“With the way I was playing throughout all the junior years and junior events, I think I earned enough confidence and motivation to be a professional tennis player and to be as a Grand Slam champion. So, you know, for somebody it was not realistic—for somebody, yes. And it was difficult to judge in that time because Serbia doesn’t have such a big tennis tradition. Considering all these bad times we had, you know, in the time when I grew up and practicing there. So it was basically impossible if you look in that way.

“But I always believed.”