Novak Djokovic, Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams discussed in Australian Open talking points
Talking points from the Australian Open, where Novak Djokovic won a record-extending eighth men's singles title and Sofia Kenin made her breakthrough
Last Updated: 03/02/20 12:18am
Roger Federer is the greatest on grass. Rafael Nadal the king of clay. Novak Djokovic the master of hard courts. But despite the old guard maintaining their Grand Slam dominance, they are being put under more pressure than ever.
Who will be remembered as the greatest of this generation?
Some will argue it is a fruitless debate to be had at this stage of their careers. All three will retire from tennis one day, with their own claims for that recognition.
Is it as simple as judging it on Grand Slams won?
Federer leads the Grand Slam men's singles titles haul with 20. Nadal is right behind, with 19, while Djokovic is closing in after winning his 17th major championship with a defiant five-set victory against Dominic Thiem in the Australian Open final.
The result saw Djokovic - even far from his best - land a record-extending eighth title in Melbourne, while the 32-year-old Serb also became the first man in the Open era to win slam titles across three decades.
Time is on his side. His hunger to win appears undiminished, overcoming the challenge of Thiem - viewed as the best of the younger generation.
Whereas Federer, particularly, and Nadal, who has faced the most injury troubles of the trio, may be running short on time in pursuit of adding more Grand Slam silverware.
The hardest thing in men's tennis remains beating Nadal at Roland Garros, but just behind in difficulty is victory against Djokovic in Melbourne. Djokovic, whose victory on Sunday saw him return to world No 1, has never lost in a semi-final or final in the city.
Federer, 38, will be desperate to win again at Wimbledon, especially after the heartache of his defeat last year against Djokovic.
The trio have won the last 13 slams between them, dating back to Andy Murray's second Wimbledon title in 2016, but the expectation that run is not far from being broken.
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Thiem's time will come
The wait for Thiem goes on. In his third Grand Slam final, the 26-year-old Austrian just came up short despite his best to end the old guard's slam dominance.
Yet, there is plenty of reason for optimism for Thiem. He beat Nadal for the first time in a Grand Slam match in the quarter-finals, before his absorbing battle against Djokovic in the showpiece.
He appears best suited to the slower courts and will once again be a genuine contender at Roland Garros, where he has already been beaten twice in finals over the past two years.
His run in Melbourne has rewarded him with a return to a career-high ranking of world No 4, emphasising a continued progress in his development under the tutelage of coach Nicolas Massu.
Speaking in his on-court speech, Djokovic said: "You have a lot of time in your career and I'm sure you will get one of these Grand Slam trophies - more than one."
Kenin the fresh face of American tennis
A dream come true for Sofia Kenin. The American became the youngest winner in Melbourne since Maria Sharapova in 2008, but at 21 there is still plenty for the new Australian Open women's singles champion to achieve.
New goals will undoubtedly be set.
She replaces Serena Williams as the top-ranked American player for the first time in her career, at No 7. Kenin is just the second American player, after Sloane Stephens at the 2017 US Open, to win a major aside of the Williams sisters since 2003.
Victory against Garbine Muguruza will have been the fulfilment of a collective and long-held objective for Kenin and her father and coach Alex, who moved his family from Russia to America.
Aside from the personal achievement, Kenin's success continues women's tennis youth movement in a new era in which unpredictability reigns.
Eight of the past 12 Grand Slam winners have been first-time champions, including several youthful champions, including Kenin, 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu, 23-year-old Ashleigh Barty, and 22-year-old Naomi Osaka.
WOW!! My dream came true! It’s been an incredible journey for me to get to where I am today holding Daphne 🏆— Sofia Kenin (@SofiaKenin) February 2, 2020
Thank you everyone for being there with me every single match, for supporting me, this means everything to me ❤️ Feel so special in this gorgeous Jason Grech dress! pic.twitter.com/NpO4yi8vLF
Will Serena break Court's elusive major tally?
Serena Williams arrived at Melbourne Park as the pre-tournament favourite, backed to win an eighth Australian Open singles title.
But her campaign ended in a shock third-round exit. How many opportunities left does she have to tie- and overtake - Margaret Court's record of 24 major titles.
Not since the Australian Open in 2017 has the 38-year-old won a major title. In the intervening period she has lost four Grand Slam finals.
So, where does her best chance at a 24th Grand Slam lie?
"I seem to do well the last two slams of the year," Williams said.
The answer highlighted her acceptance she will prioritise a concerted bid at winning Wimbledon or the US Open later this year.
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