| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo courtesy of USTA/Darren Carroll

 

Four months removed from the U.S. Open, both Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka delivered encore performances in Australia over the last two weeks. The two captured the men’s singles and women’s singles titles, respectively, in dominant fashion to leave no doubt on who currently stands atop the men’s and women’s tours.

In the women’s final, Osaka took on eighth-seed Petra Kvitova in what was aptly referred to as the “feel good final”. Osaka is the quiet, young superstar who had to deal with the emotional rollercoaster of last year’s U.S. Open final, while Kvitova is a two-time Grand Slam champion, who just two years prior was severely injured in a home invasion.

The two delivered a fantastic match on the court indicative of the level they showed throughout the fortnight, and it was Osaka who came out on top in the end with a 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-4 victory.

“I had dreams that I would win this tournament, you know? Every time I have a dream, somehow I accomplish it, I still feel like it’s a very strange moment,” said Osaka. “Like I feel like I’m living right now, but it’s not necessarily real, if that makes sense.”

Osaka now catapults to No. 1 in the world rankings.

“I mean, for me, I feel like it hasn’t rally sunk in,” said Osaka. “Maybe in the next tournament I play, if I see the No. 1 next to my name, I’ll feel something. But for now, I’m more happy that I won this trophy.”

In the men’s final on Sunday, Djokovic met Rafael Nadal for the 53rd time in their decorated careers, and in what most tennis fans anticipated to be an epic final.

But the Serb was utterly unbeatable on this day. He needed just over two hours and to dismantle Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 and win the Melbourne title for the seventh time in his career.

“It ranks right at the top,” Djokovic said when asked how special this performance was. “Under the circumstances, playing against Nadal, such an important match, I mean, it’s amazing. Obviously back-to-back semi-finals and final, I think I made 15 unforced errors in total in two matches. It’s quite pleasantly surprising to myself, as well, even though I always believe I can play this way, visualize myself playing this way. At this level…it was truly a perfect match.”

Djokovic committed just nine unforced errors in the match while firing 34 winners. He now has 15 Grand Slam titles, trailing only Nadal (17) and Roger Federer (20) for most all-time.