January 27, 2019
The sheer brilliance of Novak Djokovic denied us the classic contest we had all anticipated.
Given the quality of his opponent, this was arguably the most complete performance in the history of Grand Slam finals.
Novak strolled it. Against the great warrior, Nadal. Incredible. The Serb is the first man to win seven Australian Open titles.
When it comes to Grand Slams, Djokovic is simply too good for others to live with.
He now holds three simultaneously. In another life, he held all four at once.
Can Djokovic take the French again too? On this kind of form he has a good chance, Rafa or no Rafa.
This reincarnation of Novak Djokovic put the great Rafael Nadal in the shade in Melbourne.
The Spaniard was looking to become the first man to win every Slam twice. Not this time.
Nadal, you will remember, had looked scarily good all tournament. So good, in fact, that you wondered whether even Djokovic could tame him.
Novak’s fans needn’t have worried. The precision, the relaxation, the dominance on serve.
Once again Djokovic reminded us why he is the most complete tennis player the world has ever seen.
Now he has 15 Grand Slams. Two behind Rafa and five behind Roger Federer.
Suddenly, the great Federer looks very catchable indeed.
Did Nadal underperform? He did look tight and tentative. His aim was less than true.
But Rafa hadn’t played for so long, maybe he just wasn’t quite ready, mentally or physically, to compete at this stellar level.
Djokovic wasn’t about to ease Nadal in gently. Rafa could barely win a point on Novak’s serve, let alone break.
From the very start of the match, the writing was on the wall. By the time Djokovic closed out 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 that writing had formed a simple sentence.
At his best, Novak Djokovic is in a league of his own.
Nadal said: ‘It was an amazing level of tennis Novak, well done for everything.
‘It’s been a very emotional two weeks for me, since the US Open I wasn’t able to play so this is very important for me.
‘I played a great two weeks of tennis and this will be a great inspiration for me. I’m going to keep fighting.’
Djokovic replied: ‘I’d like to return the favour and tell Rafa, you have shown to me and the world in your career the definition of fighting spirit and resilience.
‘I too had surgery twelve months ago. And to be holding three out of four Slams is amazing. I’m speechless. Bonza! A ripper!’
To continue in Novak’s vernacular, it wasn’t a ripper of a final because there was only ever going to be one winner.
But you just had to sit back and admire Novak’s perfectly choreographed procession towards three in a row.
If Djokovic and Nadal clash once more at Roland Garros, it will be a more even fight. Rafa will certainly want revenge for this drubbing.
And so the tennis year of 2019 has been set up very nicely indeed by events in Australia.