Novak Djokovic outplayed Rafael Nadal 6/3, 6/2, 6/3 to win his seventh Australian Open title and 15th Grand Slam crown yesterday.
The contest lasted just two hours five minutes to give Djokovic a 28 to 25 lead in his 53rd career meeting with Nadal.
It was also the eighth time they were meeting in a grand slam final.
Djokovic established the pattern of the match at the outset, conceding no easy points while Nadal had to serve an ace or hit an outright winner to get points.
Djokovic hit 34 outright winners and made only nine unforced errors. In contrast, Nadal delivered 21 but committed 28 unforced errors.
The champion hit eight aces and no double faults while Nadal registered three aces and two double faults.
In the opening game, Djokovic hit a service winner, followed it with a forehand winner, an ace and a powerful drive that forced an error off Nadal’s backhand at game point.
In his opening serve, however, Nadal made three unforced errors to concede an early service break from which he never recovered before losing the set 6 to 3 in 36 minutes.
Nadal won his serve in the second set opener but Djokovic won the second game without dropping a point.
Nadal required a forehand winner to reach game point and forced a backhand error from his opponent to lead 2-1 for the first time in the match.
A combination of a Nadal error, an ace and offensive play gave Djokovic the fourth game, just as he took Nadal’s next serve to lead 3-2.
The champion extended the lead to 4-2 and took Nadal’s next service game. He won the eighth game and the set with forehand a winner and three consecutive aces.
Nadal opened the third set by taking two points on winners from his backhand but Djokovic outlasted him in a long rally to level in points.
Nadal again needed a forehand winner to reach game point, but Djokovic took the second game at love.
Nadal hit a double fault to 15-30 and eventually conceded the break, while Djokovic raced to a 3-1 lead. Nadal required a forehand winner, an ace and a backhand winner to take the fifth game.
A rarity of four unforced errors placed Djokovic at 30-40 but he cancelled the only break threat of the match and took the game to lead 4-2.
Nadal fought hard to break Djokovic’s serve in the eighth game but his opponent was unrelenting. In an effort to rescue the match, Nadal shot ahead 15-0 on Djokovic’s serve in the eighth game and forced a deuce but the Serb held on to lead 5-3.
Nadal needed to win the ninth game to stay in the match. His aggression elicited an error from Djokovic who promptly hit a forehand winner to level 15-all and forced Nadal to 15-30.
A forehand winner got Djokovic the match point after precisely two hours and two minutes.
Nadal saved the first match point after a long rally when Djokovic made an uncommon unforced backhand error.
On the second opportunity, however, Nadal returned the favour by missing a backhand to lose the match.
It was a match that repeated the easy path of both players to the final round. Djokovic lost a set only in the third round match with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 6/4; 6/7 (5); 6/2; 6/3. Nadal faced a threat only once in the fourth round against Tomas Berdych 6/0; 6/1; 7/6(4).
Nadal won their very first meeting in the quarter-finals of 2006 Roland Garros and dominated their encounters for years until Djokovic defeated him in the finals of 2011 Wimbledon championships.
Djokovic also won their previous encounter in the semi-finals of the same event in 2018.
Djokovic has now surpassed Australia’s Roy Emerson and Switzerland’s Roger Federer who had won six titles each in Melbourne.