Djokovic delivers down under; Osaka ousts Brady
Updated: Jun 6, 2022
In the 109th edition of the Australian Open, the undisputed ‘King of Melbourne Park’, Novak Djokovic clinched a stunning 9th Aussie Open crown – his 18th Grand Slam championship overall. The 33-year-old Serb now sits in touching distance of Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal's shared record of 20 major titles.
The upcoming week is due to be Djokovic's 309th week at the summit of the ATP rankings, with Swiss stalwart Federer (310) the only other player to ever surpass such a milestone. As he continues his recovery following knee surgery, Federer missed out on the first Grand Slam in the year which he turns 40. Questions continue to circulate regarding the playing career of arguably the sport's greatest ever player.
Djokovic came into the 2021 Australian Open as two-time defending champion, with Melbourne continuing to prove a happy hunting ground for the world no.1.
There was blockbuster tennis on display from as early as the 3rd Round, as reigning US Open champ Dominic Thiem rallied from two sets down & edged unseeded local hero Nick Kyrgios; third seed Thiem did not make it much further as he crashed out the next round at the hands of Grigor Dimitrov.
In the quarterfinals, Dimitrov lost out to Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev, who impressively also knocked out eighth seed Diego Schwartzman two rounds prior.
Djokovic got the better of a resilient Alex Zverev to set up a semi-final clash with Karatsev, who Serbia's jewel eased past in straight sets.
On the alternate side of the draw there was a spectacular, yet gruelling, quarterfinal encounter between Rafael Nadal and fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in which the 22-year-old hard-hitting Greek star overcame a two-set deficit to shock the 2nd seeded Spaniard who is 12 years his senior.
Tsitsipas, unfortunately, came short in the semis against Daniil Medvedev, who won in straight sets to reach a second major final appearance.
Medvedev, 25, was no match for his opposite number Djokovic, who swept aside the Russian, 7-6 6-2 6-2.
In the space of 14 years, Djokovic has now astonishingly lifted the Norman Brookes trophy 9 times – three more than next-best Federer & Roy Emerson.
In the Ladies' draw, 2020 champion Sofia Kenin was dumped out of this year's tournament as early as the 2nd Round, whilst top seed and home favourite Ashleigh Barty was outdone in the quarterfinals by 25th seed Karolina Muchova; the Czech was defeated in the semis by eventual beaten finalist, Jennifer Brady.
The 25-year-old American faced a seemingly straightforward journey to Saturday's final, with three of her five opponents unseeded and/or a qualifier.
In the Final, Brady met Naomi Osaka who was eyeing a fourth major success at the steady age of 23. Osaka cruised past 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams in the semifinals, and was near unscathed in reaching a 2nd Final at Melbourne Park – dropping just a single set on her way to a dual with Brady for the Daphne Akhurst Cup.
Japanese-born Osaka saw off Brady in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, to hoist her 2nd Australian Open and fourth major accolade, overall.
Osaka climbed to no.2 in the WTA rankings, leapfrogging Simona Halep who went out to Williams in the quarterfinals.
In the latest ATP rankings, Medvedev swaps places with Dominic Thiem to now sit in the top 3.
Following a brief lockdown in Victoria, Melbourne, reduced crowds were permitted to return to the arenas from Thursday, just in time for semi- and Final action.
Each session allowed 7,477 spectators (approximately 50% capacity of the Rod Laver Arena).
The French Open at Roland Garros is scheduled to take place from 17 May - 6 June.