Odishatv Bureau

Melbourne: Novak Djokovic on Sunday paid tribute to late basketball great Kobe Bryant after winning the 2020 Australia Open title. Djokovic beat Austrian Dominic Thiem in five sets at the Rod Laver Arena to lift the Sir Norman Brookes Cup a record-extending eighth time.

In his speech after being presented with the trophy, Djokovic spoke about the bushfires that ravaged Australia at the turn of the year and Bryant's death.

"There were some devastating things that started 2020," said Djokovic. "The huge bushfires here in Australia, conflicts in some parts of the world, people dying every day.

"One person that I considered close in my life and was a mentor to me, Kobe Bryant, passed away as well with his daughter. I would like to say that this is a reminder to all of us that we should stick together more than ever. Stay close to the people who love and care for you. We are part of professional sport, we compete and try our best but obviously there are more important things in life. It is important to be conscious and humble about things that are happening around you," he said.

Thiem also spoke about the bushfires in his speech during the presentation ceremony. "There are more important things in life (than tennis). It's tough, what this beautiful country has gone through or is still going through. The Australian Open was a good distraction but I still hope that all the people and the wildlife that have been affected, they recover soon and that a disaster like this never happens again," said Thiem.