Dominant Djokovic Dismantles Rafa (Written by Emre Saridogan)
Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in a one-sided Australian Open men’s final to win the 15th Grand Slam of his illustrious career. Nadal, having played superb tennis to reach the final without dropping a set, was outplayed by a Djokovic at his vintage best. Nadal started badly, going 3-0 down, and never truly recovered as he struggled to get a foothold in the match. Djokovic’s 6-3 6-2 6-3 victory means he becomes the first man ever to win 7 Australian Open titles, beating the record of 6 titles shared by Roy Emerson and Roger Federer.
Despite reaching the final, Djokovic’s tennis had been far from convincing in the opening stages of the tournament. He had a mental wobble against Canadian youngster Denis Shapovalov after being irritated by the premature use of floodlights and was nearly toppled by 15th seed Daniil Medvedev in Round 4. However, after squeezing through those matches, Djokovic was handed an easy quarter-final in which Kei Nishikori retired, before finding his best tennis in the semi-finals against Lucas Pouille. This seemingly sparked the Serb into life and gave him the confidence to play his as he did in the final.
“It ranks right at the top,” said Djokovic. “Under the circumstances, playing against Nadal, such an important match, I mean, it’s amazing. Obviously back-to-back semi-finals and final, I think I made 15 unforced errors in total in two matches.” Nadal will have been disappointed with his own level, but was full of praise for his opponent, saying “I think he [Djokovic] played fantastic. When he’s playing that way, I think I needed something else. I was not able to have that extra ‘thing’ tonight. [It] was unbelievable the way that he played, no doubt about that.”
In a much more tightly contested women’s final, Naomi Osaka overcame a second set lapse to defeat Petra Kvitova 7-6 5-7 6-4. Osaka looked set to win in straight sets, holding 3 championship points at 5-3 up in set number two. However, with her back to the wall, Kvitova reeled off 4 straight games to win the second set against a highly frustrated Osaka. But the Japanese regained her focus to stop the rot and to take a break advantage at 1-1 in the deciding set. There would be no repeat of the second set, as Osaka safely served out the match to seal her second Grand Slam title.
Osaka will now climb to World Number One for the first time in her career, at the age of just 21. She is also half way towards completing her career Grand Slam and is certainly a candidate to be holding all four Grand Slams after Wimbledon this summer.
Kvitova need not be ashamed of her defeat. The Czech was out of tennis for a long period of time after being stabbed by burglars in her home and should be incredibly proud of having reached a Grand Slam final. The fact that she will become the World Number Two on Monday is a fabulous achievement and is nothing short of a miracle.