Naomi Osaka def Petra Kvitova 7-6, 5-7, 6-4
What a match this was, two likeable players faced each other for the first time for a maiden Australian title and the world number one spot. Not that it needed it, but this was another great advert for the women’s game.
Both players are strong servers and this dominated the early exchanges, Kvitova looking more nervous, most notably in a tentative forehand that never really proved effective.
Still, into a tiebreaker it went and Osaka raised her game and took some risks with a cool head and calculated accuracy which defied her 21 years. Petra had no answer once her serve faltered slightly.
The Czech regained herself in the next set and stayed with her opponent whose confidence was only growing. The Japanese duly broke but as three Championship points came and went Kvitova then snuck the second set in what was a definite momentum shift.
But then in the the decider we saw just why Osaka is such a talent. Her game itself lacks a showstopping element (the down the line groundstrokes come close), but instead it is her mentality that is so strong and what ultimately won this title. As pressure mounted, Osaka’s confidence flowed right back and with it, those effective high risk winners.
Both women are likeable anyway, but their very different personal stories made this such a popular match-up. Naomi, who at last could enjoy winning a major, will now look to dominate and keep that cool head all season.
Petra is thankful to be back at the big time (a superb 2018 was filled with titles but relatively quiet major showings) after the robbery and stabbing. A third Wimbledon crown would be sweet indeed.
Novak Djokovic def Rafa Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Alot of people are already confidently classifying the Big 3 now as Federer best on grass, Rafa best on clay and Novak best on hardcourts. Whilst that remains a crude classification, tonight certainly didn’t disprove it.
Nadal is often cited to have given the greats many a clay-court lesson, tonight, unquestionably Djokovic schooled an off colour Rafa on the hard stuff.
Nadal had no answer whatsoever to his opponents serve, the Serb routinely winning service games to love. The forehand was incredibly loose and free-flowing and his trademark elasticity was present and correct. Though it was rarely needed tonight, so in effective were the shots coming from across the net.
Nadal looked nervous and tactically unsure and ultimately desperate, resorting to clay court defence and sitting way back.
It didn’t work.
Federer is too old, Wawrinka, Cilic, Nishikori and DelPo still ruined by injury and/or lack of confidence and Rafa will be mentally broken for a while. The young guns made many a statement here but ultimately failed again here to impress on and dethrone all three of the establishment.
Djokovic – now alone of course with seven Oz titles – must be confident of a second era of dominance.
Mahut and Herbert clinch career slam
A special note for these two who defeated Henri Kontinen and John Peers earlier today. The likeable French duo have now won all four majors, and continue to do so with elan and an honest integrity.
Especially pleased for Nicolas, who must’ve feared he’d be remembered by all but the more dedicated tennis fan as the man who lost the longest match in history. Instead he can rightly lay claim to being one of the best doubles players of all time.
Images from Australian Open official site