After marching through the first six rounds without dropping a set, 17 times Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has been handed a dose of reality in an utterly one-sided final against Novak Djokovic, now the most successful player at Melbourne Park of all time. Djokovic played 2 hours of sublime tennis to claim his seventh Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 beatdown over the second most successful Grand Slam player ever.
The final looked set to be a blockbuster after Nadal and Djokovic both swept all opposition aside on their way, including two straight sets victories in the semis. With Roger Federer knocked out in a shock upset in the fourth round, the two remaining big guns appeared certain to battle in the final (which was correct), but the scale of the win surprised everyone.
Nadal and Djokovic have played some memorable finals at the Australian Open, including setting a record for the longest match at Melbourne Park in 2012. This was not one of those finals.
Djokovic has now won the last 3 Grand Slam events, and if he wins the French he will hold all four for the second time in his career. In the form he is currently in, both Nadal and Federer will be hoping that Djokovic picks up an injury before then!
The Serbian star is also now outright third on the list of all-time Slam winners with 15, behind only Federer (20) and Nadal. He has also well and truly left his rivalry with contemporary Andy Murray behind, and is pressing his claim to be the greatest ever player.
By reaching the final so comprehensively Nadal and Djokovic put a dampener on talk about the emergence of the next generation, which swelled after Federer was upset by Stefanos Tsitsipas – as it always does when one of the big three is beaten at a slam. Tsitsipas appeared shell-shocked by Nadal in the semi-final, while Nadal himself was completely out-gunned by Djokovic.
The only concern for Djokovic will be that last time he went on a rampage like his current streak he left himself exhausted and injury prone after about a year.