Australian Open talking points: Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka triumph again on Grand Slam stage
By Mathieu Wood
Last Updated: 28/01/19 5:42pm
Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka are once again Grand Slam champions, just as they were four months ago at the US Open, but despite the difference in manner of their respective Australian Open triumphs the significance is without question, writes Mathieu Wood.
They are two players with unquestionable talent, desire and resolve - separated by 10 years in experience, yet both are leading the way among their peers.
Djokovic underlined his status as the best player in the men's game with a truly formidable performance against great rival Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final to seal a third successive Grand Slam title and 15th overall.
Osaka backed up her dramatic victory against Serena Williams in last year's Flushing Meadows showpiece with a gutsy performance, seemingly beyond her years, after three missed championship points against Petra Kvitova threatened to ruin her hopes of glory.
Here, we look at what we learned from a memorable fortnight at Melbourne Park…
Driven Djokovic unrelenting in mission for success
As if winning a record seventh Australian Open men's singles title, along with his third straight and moving one step closer to Roger Federer's all-time haul of 20 Grand Slams wasn't enough, the Serb has set his sights on completing the clean sweep of Slams at one time.
Such a feat would be the second time he has done so in his career and it would match the accomplishment he achieved when he won at Roland Garros for the first time in 2016.
Djokovic made clear his desire to hold all four at once when he spoke to the media in Melbourne on Monday.
"I don't want this to sound arrogant but I have done it once (so) why not do it again. I am just one Slam away from that," he said. "Everything is possible in life - that is a philosophy I have."
This came one day after he had spoken of his desire to surpass Federer's haul of 20 Grand Slam titles in his post-final press conference.
Having not lost a Grand Slam match since last June, you would be hard put to query the Serb's chances - even if 11-time French Open champion Nadal regains his full physical powers for the clay court campaign.
Osaka grabbing opportunity to take centre stage
Osaka is the same age as Alexander Zverev - 21 - but despite the Japanese player's later emergence than the German, who remains yet to progress past a Grand Slam quarter-final, there can be no questioning who is making the biggest impact on the sport's biggest stages.
A year ago Osaka was ranked world No 72 and still chasing her first WTA title but 12 months on and she is a two-time Grand Slam champion and also the best player in the game.
Victory for Osaka on Saturday broke the sequence of eight different Slam winners in as many tournaments so, after two years of unpredictability, has the Japanese begun a period of dominance?
Williams, who lost back-to-back Grand Slam finals in 2018, missed another chance to join level with Margaret Court's record of 23 Grand Slam singles wins and Osaka, who won five matches which went to three sets, seized the moment in Melbourne.
"You guys know the French Open's next, right," she said of following in the footsteps of her idol Williams by holding all four Slam titles at the same time. "I'm not going to lie and say that thought hasn't crossed my mind, but I don't know."
Changing of the men's guard? Hard yards still for young pretenders
For some time now there have been suggestions that the dominance of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at the Grand Slams could be disturbed by the younger generation of talent. Such assertions have, as of now, yet to be fulfilled despite the progress of Stefanos Tsitsipas' semi-final run.
Federer rejected the belief, suggested by John McEnroe, that Tsitsipas' win against Federer heralded a new guard in men's tennis and the manner of Nadal's ruthless victory over the Greek star adds credence.
"I've heard that story the last 10 years. From that standpoint, nothing new there," Federer, who himself has suffered successive fourth round exits, said.
Zverev appears to be carrying the world on his shoulders when he plays at the Grand Slam, Frances Tiafoe made his first breakthrough, while the likes of Karen Khachanov, Borna Coric and Daniil Medvedev still have some way to compete for major honours.
Kvitova a champion in defeat
Kvitova may not have left Melbourne as a three-time Grand Slam champion but the 28-year-old can take huge positives from her fortnight, which was full of emotional meaning.
The Czech reached the final without losing a set and demonstrated all the ability which saw her win twice at Wimbledon, in 2011 and 2014, but the tennis performance is dwarfed in importance when compared with the personal challenge she has faced over the past two years.
A career-threatening knife attack at her home in December 2016 has only appeared to heighten her determination to enjoy further success.
Kvitova spoke of her pride at reaching a first Grand Slam final since her second Grand Slam success, but admitted she was "hurting a lot" after the defeat.
"I wanted to win and have the trophy - but I think I already won two years ago," she said. "So for me, it's amazing."
We have the tennis season covered from all angles via our website skysports.com/tennis. On the move? Head to our app for mobile devices and iPad, or follow our Twitter account @SkySportsTennis to join in the conversation.