The king of Melbourne, Djokovic delivers a performance for the ages
Novak Djokovic delivered the most emphatic reminder as to why he is the king of Melbourne with his stunning triumph over a stunned Rafael Nadal.
The Serbian alone can now lay claim to the crown at the Australian Open, winning a record seventh title by crushing long-time Nadal on Sunday. But even by his incredibly lofty standards, what Djokovic produced on Rod Laver Arena was special.
This was a display of the utmost precision at times verging on baseline bullying. A ruthless rout of a fellow all-time great who simply had no answer to the irresistible force on the other side of the net. This was the most startling example of what Djokovic can do on the Melbourne stage.
The 15-time grand slam champion – only Roger Federer (20) and Nadal (17) have claimed more – won 13 of the first 14 points and never looked back, romping to a 6-3 6-2 6-3 victory in just two hours, four minutes.
Djokovic went about his business relatively quietly on the way to the final, with Greek sensation and Federer conqueror Stefanos Tsitsipas taking most of the attention, alongside Nadal and his new serve.
Remodelled and improved, Nadal's serve had not faced a test like this – and it did not hold up. The world's best returner was on the opposite side of the draw, and on Sunday the opposite side of the net. Nadal had almost nothing to offer in response, not via the serve or the forehand, as Djokovic hit lines and corners at will.
Nothing comes free from Djokovic and Nadal couldn't even get anything cheap. The Serbian lost just 13 points on serve. He committed just nine unforced errors.
Nadal was bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the majors twice. Now, he will have to defend his Roland Garros kingdom to stop Djokovic doing just that.
And the 'Nole Slam' is back on for a second time. Djokovic holds every major except the French Open. Only three men – Don Budge (1938), Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) and Djokovic (2015-16) have claimed the non-calendar year Grand Slam. None of his great rivals have managed what Djokovic is on the verge of doing twice.
A trip to the French Alps may have revitalised Djokovic last year, but he needs no invitation to rise to his best in Melbourne.
And on Sunday he took his crown, producing a performance befitting of a king.