Novak Djokovic tops Rafael Nadal to win 7th Australian Open title

Monday, 28 Jan, 2019

Blitzed from the start, Nadal could only congratulate an opponent that condemned him to his worst Grand Slam defeat in their long rivalry.

What Tsitsipas likely didn't envision was Nadal, three days later, looking just as overmatched in the Australian Open final.

In his on-court remarks during Sunday's trophy presentation, Djokovic paid tribute to that quality in Nadal, who he regards as his greatest rival and the player most responsible for pushing him to be even better.

Djokovic was in complete control throughout the match to remarkably register the seventh time he has lifted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup and now holds the most single men's titles at the Melbourne-based tournament.

Nadal doesn't lose matches like that, especially after playing such flawless tennis to reach the final-he hadn't so much as a dropped service game since his opening match.

The last time Djokovic and Nadal met in Australian Open final, they were ranked at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. And Nadal, with 17 Grand Slam titles to his name, vowed there was more to come despite being 32 and guaranteed to be considered among the best to have ever lifted a racquet.

So let the talk begin about four majors in a row over two seasons, something Djokovic already managed to do from 2015-16.

Nadal only had one look at break point - 1 hour, 46 minutes into the match - and he couldn't convert after netting a backhand. That is a staggering statistic.

Eight games in, Djokovic had yet to lose a point on serve.

Nadal has been in unstoppable form at Melbourne Park and is yet to drop a set. Like everything Djokovic tried on Sunday, it worked. John McEnroe claimed the four-set loss was "watching the changing of the guard" and Laver, an 11-time grand slam champ, agreed.

He racked up 28 unforced errors while Djokovic leaked only nine, in an astonishing display of control.

But it's important to note that Djokovic, who has won the past three majors, is only 31, nearly a full year younger than Nadal.

You can stream the match via the ESPN app and WatchESPN.

Their only previous final in Australia, in 2012, developed into a record-breaking 5hr 53min slugfest - the longest in Grand Slam history. Major No.15 and counting. Passing Federer once seemed achievable, before the slump made it unrealistic; now it again feels possible, if not probable.

In eclipsing the six Open titles of Roger Federer and Australian Roy Emerson, Djokovic also surpassed American legend Pete Sampras to elevate himself to outright third on the all-time grand slam title leaderboard with a 15th career major.

It's easy to overreact to one exceptional performance. "It was absolutely mind-blowing tennis".

But it quickly turned into a fizzer.

That was before he defeated another Argentine in Mariano Puerta to become only the second player after Mats Wilander to win at Roland Garros on his first try.

Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal is a very significant matchup for Djokovic.