Djokovic brushes aside Nadal to reign again at the Australian Open
Novak Djokovic secured a record-breaking seventh Australian Open title in ruthless fashion on Sunday, dismantling Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-2 6-3 in Melbourne.
The top seed dominated from the outset as he breezed to a 15th career grand slam – taking him clear of Pete Sampras to sit alone in third place on the all-time list – and his third in succession, having also won Wimbledon and the US Open last year.
The two all-time greats produced a classic encounter in the tournament's showpiece in 2012 – Djokovic eventually prevailing in a deciding set after five hours and 53 minutes on court – but this time it was a complete mismatch.
Nadal had not dropped a set in reaching the final yet struggled to make an impact in a stunningly one-sided contest, the left-hander succumbing to the brilliance of the Serbian, who moves beyond Roger Federer and Roy Emerson for most wins in the history of the event.
The tone was set as early as the second game when Nadal lost his opener on serve to quickly fall behind.
In contrast, Djokovic was quickly up to speed. Astonishingly, he dropped just one point on his own serve during the opening set, repeatedly able to hold with ease against an opponent unable to apply any sort of pressure.
Flashing looks at his support team as he struggled to comprehend what was happening to him, Nadal at least stood firm at the start of the second.
However, the pivotal break arrived in the fifth game, Nadal sending a volley long after an absorbing rally that ended with the pair both at the net. It was about as close as the Spaniard got to his rival throughout the night, though.
After twice being taken to deuce in the following game, Djokovic broke again to go 5-2 up before serving out for the set in style, firing down three aces to hold to love.
Nadal had failed in his four previous attempts to rally from two sets down in a slam final and his task became even tougher when he was broken again early in the third.
The second seed had an opportunity to hit back in the sixth game only for an ambitious cross-court backhand to go awry, allowing Djokovic a reprieve he barely needed as he ominously marched towards the crown.
After just two hours and four minutes on court, the 31-year-old sealed a comprehensive victory with another break, a gracious Nadal coming across to his rival's side of the court to congratulate him after a ruthless display.