We hoped for a classic but were given a clinic. In 2012, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal endured an almost six-hour war in the Australian Open final.
Seven years on, the Spaniard did well to last 124 minutes. If you didn’t catch it, the world no.1 prevailed 6-3 6-2 6-3 at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
It’s Djokovic’s seventh Australian Open singles title, an all-time record for a male player. I won’t recap the match but here are some silly stats for you.
- 81% of points in his service games
- 42% of points in Nadal’s service games
- 89% of points at the net
- And finished with 34 winners and 9 unforced errors
The win moves Djokovic to 15 career singles Majors overall. His seven Australian Opens, four Wimbledons, three US Opens and single French Open push him one clear of ‘Pistol’ Pete Sampras.
The 31-year-old is now third in the all-time list behind Roger on 20, and Rafa on 17.
The imperious Serb, who once held all four Majors at once, is most definitely back and the ATP Tour looks powerless to stop him at the moment. Djokovic lifted the trophy in the past three Majors and made the final in eight of his last 10 events.
Comfortably the best player in the world, Sunday’s performance copper-fastens Djokovic’s hold on the no.1 spot. He will have 10,955 ATP ranking points on Monday, 2,500 more than Nadal and almost 4,500 clear of Alexander Zverev in third.
To compound the doom for the men’s tour, Djokovic lost in the first round of both Indian Wells and Miami last year so any improvement in 2019 will increase his points tally.
While Indian Wells and Miami, known as the Sunshine Swing, are prestigious events, the clay court season will now occupy the mind of every tennis follower. Rafael Nadal’s seasons usually see him amass a shed-load of points in Barcelona, Monte-Carlo, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.
The King of Clay is the French Open master with 11 Coupe de Mousquetaires replicas stashed away in Manacor, Mallorca.
However, the Spaniard’s chances of adding to his 57 clay titles will be in jeopardy this summer if Djokovic can maintain his form and fitness.
In 2016, the Serb completed the career grand slam when he defeated Andy Murray in the Roland Garros final. He’s suffered a lot of pain on Court Philippe Chatrier over the years, losing a couple of finals to Nadal and one to a mighty Stan Wawrinka performance in 2015.
Imagine how determined he will be to dethrone the lefty in Paris and for a second time hold all four grand slams at once. However, before the clay swing arrives, let’s have a quick peek at the Sunshine Swing.
In 2018, Juan Martin del Potro upset Roger Federer in the final of the former while John Isner grabbed the biggest title of his career at the latter. Djokovic, ever greedy, already has five Indian Wells titles and six Miami crowns to his name.
He will be the overwhelming favourite this Spring but it may not be a complete stroll.
Rafa and Roger will of course put up resistance but I’m intrigued to see how young guns like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov, Daniil Medvedev, Borna Coric, Denis Shapovalov, Francis Tiafoe and Alex de Minaur develop over the coming months. From the (older) guard, watch out for Milos Raonic (who impressed Down Under), Kevin Anderson, and the playing return of Juan Martin del Potro.
If we’re really lucky, we may even get a healthy dose of Stanimal and who wouldn’t love that?!