Novak Djokovic is hurtling towards a unique place in tennis history after crushing Rafael Nadal to claim an unprecedented seventh Australian Open men’s singles crown.
The resurgent world No.1 destroyed the second-ranked Nadal 6-3 6-2 6-3 on Sunday night in the most one-sided men’s final at Melbourne Park in 16 years.
In eclipsing the six Open titles of Roger Federer and Australian Roy Emerson, Djokovic also surpassed American legend Pete Sampras to elevate himself to outright third on the all-time grand slam title leaderboard with a 15th career major.
The super Serb now trails only Federer (20) and Nadal (17) and, at 31 and younger than his two great rivals, Djokovic may yet burst from their giant shadows and become the most successful grand slam performer in history.
More immediately, the reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion will head to Paris in May bidding to complete his second “Novak Slam“, having won all four majors consecutively in 2015-16.
No other man in 50 years of professional tennis has ever held the sport’s four biggest trophies simultaneously twice
Djokovic’s latest triumph was as swift and merciless as it was stunning.
Incredibly, he went eight majors between drinks before beginning his revival from a mystifying two-year slump at the All England Club last year.
Twenty-one straight wins later at the slams and Djokovic is suddenly within sight of sporting immortality.
The 53rd instalment of the epic Djokovic-Nadal rivalry had been billed as one of the most-anticipated ever.
But it quickly turned into a fizzer.
Nadal had marched through the bottom half of the draw without dropping a set for the first time.
It took Djokovic just 36 minutes, though, to snap that streak after the top seed broke the second seed’s very first service game of the match.
Relentless and error-free from the back court, Djokovic’s utter domination continued in the second set as the stressed Spaniard’s mistake rate soared.
With two more breaks, Djokovic seized a two-sets-to-love advantage – and there was no way back for Nadal.
With a fifth service break in the third set, Djokovic clinched the title after only two hours and four minutes.
Two damning statistics told the story as Nadal suffered his worst defeat in 25 grand slam finals: just nine unforced errors in 26 games from Djokovic – and 28 from Nadal.