World No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat rival Rafael Nadal in straight sets to claim a record-breaking seventh Australian Open title on Sunday at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
Djokovic cruised past the second-ranked Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in their 53rd career meeting.
“Under the circumstances, playing against Nadal, such an important match, I mean, it’s amazing,” said Djokovic afterward. “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 had nine unforced errors, compared to 28 for Nadal, who was vying to become the first men’s singles player to win all four Grand Slam titles twice.
It’s the 15th Grand Slam title for Djokovic, moving him past Pete Sampras on the all-time list.
“(Sampras) was someone that I looked up to,” Djokovic recalled. “When I was starting to play tennis, one of the first images of tennis in general was him playing Wimbledon, winning I think his first title back in ’93. I was a small boy in Kopaonik, this mountain resort in the south of Serbia. Nobody had ever touched a tennis racquet before me. I did not have a tennis tradition in my family. I did have sports tradition. So it was definitely a sign of destiny to start playing tennis, to aspire to be as good as Pete. To surpass him with Grand Slam titles, I’m speechless.”
The only players ahead of Djokovic on the all-time Grand Slam list now are Roger Federer (20) and Nadal (17).
Djokovic improved to 4-4 against Nadal in Grand Slam finals.
“I think he played fantastic,” Nadal said. “When he’s playing that way, I think I needed something else. I was not able to have that extra ‘thing’ tonight.