MELBOURNE — It was world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and not No. 2 Rafael Nadal who carved out a slice of tennis history for himself in the Australian Open final on Sunday night.
In a near perfect showing, Djokovic captured a record seventh Australian Open title in so many finals played by dismantling Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
Prior to this victory, Djokovic was tied with Roger Federer and Roy Emerson with six Australian Open titles.
Djokovic picked up his 15th career Grand Slam trophy with the win, moving into sole ownership of third place in history behind Roger Federer with 20 titles and Nadal with 17. He was tied at 14 majors with Pete Sampras.
Last year Djokovic departed the Australian Open after a fourth-round defeat and went on to have right elbow surgery after months of problems. Many thought he’d seen his best days in the game.
The Serb’s back to being a dominant force on the tour. He’s now won three consecutive Grand Slam titles having taken the Wimbledon and US Open trophies last year.
Nadal was looking to win a second Australian Open trophy — his first was in 2009 — which would’ve given him at least two titles from each of the four Grand Slams,
The Spaniard would’ve been the first man in the Open era, and only the third in history along with Emerson and Rod Laver, to have achieved that feat.
Nadal, who arrived in the final without having lost a set, was unable to make any inroads into Djokovic’s game. It was a combination of Djokovic dictating play, and Nadal unable to even plan a strategy on points as he struggled to keep the ball from spraying beyond the lines or into the net.