Novak Djokovic won a record seventh Australian Open on Sunday, as he cruised past Rafael Nadal in the final 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
The world No. 1 and top seed, who is now a 15-time Grand Slam champion, put in a spellbinding performance, having secured a vice-like grip on the match from the off.
Djokovic dominated the early exchanges with some exceptional play on serve, leaving Nadal, who hadn't lost a set in this competition, looking surprisingly short of ideas. That trend continued throughout the match, with the Serb playing to a stunning standard.
Djokovic, who has won three Grand Slams in a row, is the only man to have won this event seven times, moving clear of six-time winners Roy Emerson and Roger Federer.
Djokovic Makes History Down Under
Given his record in previous Australian Open finals—Djokovic was six from six on this stage—it was no shock to see him settle into this match the quicker of the two players.
Nadal was tight in the initial exchanges, and his opponent capitalised, grabbing a break on Nadal's first service game and moving 3-0 up. From that point, there was never any chance of the Spaniard getting back into the set.
Nadal, who was looking for his first Australian Open title since 2009, was making some basic errors too:
Meanwhile, on the back of some remarkable serving, Djokovic was able to canter to the opening set, with the second seed unable to make any impression when returning:
After losing the first set, a response was expected from Nadal at the start of the second, but the stanza followed a similar pattern to the opener. If anything, the chasm between the two men grew.
At 2-2, Djokovic was able to grab another break to take control of the second set. In the next game, his serve came under pressure for the first time, as Nadal pushed the game to deuce; even so, the top seed found the answers and consolidated.
From there, he turned on the style, with more excellent shots forcing another break. Djokovic wrapped up the second set with three consecutive aces. Tennis journalist Tumaini Carayol commented on how demoralising the match was becoming for Nadal:
As statistician Mohandas Menon relayed, with this kind of advantage, the Serb has proved to be virtually unbeatable:
At the start of the third set, Djokovic continued to pour on the punishment. He produced a remarkable winner to begin the third game. And after some sloppy play from the Spaniard, another break was secured.
Per Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times, Nadal was on course for an unfamiliarly heavy loss:
The second seed looked like he knew it too, as Djokovic coasted through the remainder of the set behind his unflappable serve to add yet another Grand Slam to his trophy cabinet.
Djokovic is comfortably the standout player in the men's game, and he appears on course for a remarkable 2019 after this stunning start to the year.
After resting up following this latest triumph, thoughts will turn to the French Open. The prospect of this version of Djokovic going toe-to-toe with Nadal on clay is a mouthwatering one.