Djokovic grinds Murray down, shows why he's the undisputed king of Australian Open
Novak Djokovic may never win as many Wimbledon or US Open titles as Roger Federer or as many French Open championships as Rafa Nadal but when it comes to the Australian Open the Serbian reigns supreme.sports Updated: Feb 01, 2015 20:41 IST
Novak Djokovic may never win as many Wimbledon or US Open titles as Roger Federer or as many French Open championships as Rafa Nadal but when it comes to the Australian Open the Serbian reigns supreme.
Djokovic, who has garnered a reputation as the crown prince of pranksters in tennis, firmly established himself as the king of Melbourne's blue hardcourts with his fifth Australian Open title.
On Sunday, Djokovic won his crown by beating Andy Murray 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-3 6-0 in an old fashioned slugfest where the pair went toe-t-toe like two prize fighters before the Serb knocked the Scotsman out.
The only man to win more Australian titles than Djokovic is Roy Emerson, who chalked up six in the 1960s when the grand slams were restricted to amateur players and the Australian Open was played on grass at different cities all over the country.
But in the professional era, Djokovic is the undisputed king Down Under, playing in five Australian Open finals and winning the lot.
This was the 27-year-old Serb's fourth title in the past five years, and eighth grand slam overall.
That he has done it during a golden period for tennis when Federer and Nadal were at their peak only adds to his accomplishment. Since Djokovic won his first grand slam title in 2008 he has compiled a 47-3 record in Melbourne.
He has captured as many Australian Opens as Federer and Nadal combined and beaten Murray, his other great contemporary rival, in three finals.
The key to Djokovic's success in Australia is his incredible fitness. The Australian Open, more than any other grand slam, is as much a survival of the fittest as a test of skill, played on Melbourne Park's hardcourts at the height of the southern hemisphere summer.
Djokovic's commitment to keeping himself in mint condition is already legendary. He spends as much time in the gym as on the court, often training three times a day.
He is also a stickler for everything he eats and drinks, swearing off bread, chocolate, dairy products, alcohol and caffeine as part of a gluten-free diet he embarked on because he thought his energy levels were running low.
It has not always been that way with Djokovic and he has learnt the hard way.
Although he won his first Australian Open in 2008, the Serb abandoned his title defence in the quarter-finals the following year, too tired to continue.
Criticised for quitting, and struggling to find a way to catch up with Federer and Nadal, he set about turning himself into a tennis machine.
In 2011, he won his second Australian Open, first Wimbledon and first US Open titles. He won the Australian Open again in 2012 and 2013 then a second Wimbledon last year.
Sunday's win gave him his eighth career grand slam singles title, lifting him alongside Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi and Fred Perry.
Only seven players have won more, headed by Federer with 17 and Nadal on 14, who is tied with Pete Sampras. At age 27, the odds are against Djokovic eclipsing them for the overall record but when it comes to Australia he rules supreme.
"I'm so privileged and grateful to be standing here as a champion for the fifth time," Djokovic said after Emerson presented him with the trophy.
"To be in the elite group of players, with Roy Emerson as well. It is an honour playing in front of you."
First Published: Feb 01, 2015 20:34 IST