Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Well, it was business as usual for the
world’s No. 1 tennis stars at the 2015 Australian Open.
Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic entered the first Grand Slam event of the
year as the top seeds and the favorites … and they did not disappoint.
The irrepressible Serena captured her 19th career Grand Slam singles title by
handling “rival” and former No. 1 star Maria Sharapova in straight sets in the
women’s final, while Djokovic conquered good friend Andy Murray for a third
time in the men’s Down Under finale.
Serena has now gotten the better of Sharapova in two Aussie finals and hasn’t
lost to the Russian woman anywhere in 11 years (16 straight wins). The
French Open champion Sharapova is a former Aussie champ who has now lost in
three finals in Melbourne.
Murray dropped to 0-4 in his career Aussie finals, including 0-3 versus the
The 33-year-old Serena is now the reigning U.S. and Aussie Open champ after
nailing down an incredible Open Era-record sixth Aussie title, while the 27-
year-old Djokovic now holds the Wimbledon and Aussie crowns after securing his
men’s Open Era-record fifth Down Under championship.
Serena improved to 6-0 in her career Aussie finals, while Djokovic is 5-0 in
his, including four titles there over the last five years.
Serena actually ran the table in Melbourne for the first time in five years.
Oddly enough, the Aussie also marked the first time that both Serena and
Djokovic came out on top at the same Slam.
Serena surpassed Chris Evert (18) and Martina Navratilova (18) for the second-
most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, with only Steffi Graf (22) standing in
her way to tennis immortality. The great Margaret Court is the all-time leader
with 24 major championships, but only 11 of those came during the Open Era
(or since 1968).
“I would love to get to 22,” Serena said. “I mean 19 was very difficult to get
to. Took me 33 years to get here, so I would love to get there.
“But I have to get to 20 first, and then I have to get to 21. There’s so many
wonderful young players coming up, so it will be a very big task.”
With his victory, Djokovic joined legends Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Andre
Agassi as an eight-time Grand Slam champ in the Open Era. That exclusive list
is paced by Roger Federer (17), Pete Sampras (14), Rafael Nadal (14) and my
tennis hero, Bjorn Borg (11).
Serena now has 65 career titles on the WTA, while Djokovic boasts 49.
Serena already has the career Grand Slam (all four major titles), while
Djokovic still needs a French Open to complete his major resume.
Did You Know?: The last time Djokovic failed to reach a Grand Slam
quarterfinal was at the 2009 French Open.
Djokovic is 3,800 points clear at the top of the ATP World rankings following
his latest success in Oz. The Serbian star is well ahead of second-ranked
Roger Federer, who lost ground to Djokovic with a stunning third-round
exit in Melbourne.
Serena is 1,566 points ahead of Sharapova in the WTA rankings.
Serena is probably the early favorite for the next major – the French Open,
beginning May 24 – while Djokovic may still have to take a backseat to the
incomparable Nadal on the clay. Obviously, that’s the one tournament the Serb
desperately wants to win from here on out.
Serena is a two-time French Open champ, while Djokovic is a two-time runner-up
there to Nadal. Will this be the year for Nole to secure the career Slam?
We’ll find out in the first week of June.