Melbourne, 3 February 2020 (dpa/MIA) – In a sport where anything can change until the last ball is struck, this year’s Australian Open has been the perfect incarnation of tennis’s at times unpredictable nature.
It has also been a reminder of the unmovable force that is the “big three” of tennis – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – and specifically how extraordinary Djokovic‘s record at Melbourne Park is.
The Serbian 32-year-old defeated fifth seed Dominic Thiem in a tug-of-war five-setter to keep his record at Australian Open finals perfect, a tidy 8-0.
The win will see him overtake Nadal as world number one and keep stretches the streak of the trio’s consecutive major titles to 13.
“Unreal what you are doing throughout all these years,” said Thiem, who also lost consecutive Roland Garros Finals against Nadal in 2018 and 2019.
“You and also two other guys, I think you brought men’s tennis to a complete new level and I’m really proud and happy that I can compete in these times.”
With his 17th major title, Djokovic closed the gap with his long time rivals – Nadal has 19 and Federer 20 – and while 38-year-old Federer may not get to stretch the lead, Nadal is favourite to tie things up when the French Open comes around, where he has already collected 12.
The illustrious trio now shares between them 56 titles from 68 grand slams contested starting with Federer’s first Wimbledon nod in 2003. And in the period there have been only five finals without anyone of them.
“Grand Slams are one of the main reasons why I am still competing and still playing full season, trying to obviously get the historic number one. That’s the other big goal,” Djokovic said after the win.
“I put myself in this position that is really good at the moment. I’m super happy with the way I started the season. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the year.”
Rising stars such as Daniil Medvedev and Thiem – who beat Nadal in the Melbourne quarters – have however now come tantalizingly close, while other promising young talent Alexander Zverev finally had a breakthrough into a major semi-final.