Melbourne, January 28: It was a magnificent seven when Novak Djokovic eclipsed the six Australian Open titles won by Roy Emerson and Roger Federer to take sole ownership of the men’s singles record at Melbourne Park with a resounding win over Rafael Nadal on Sunday night.
The 31-year-old Serb, the world number one, defeated great rival Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-2 6-3 to claim his 15th major in Sunday's Australian Open final.
Having won his third slam in a row after Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018, Djokovic has now surpassed the trophy hauls of both Emerson and his idol Pete Sampras.
Top seed Djokovic's 15th men's singles victory moved him outright third ahead of American Pete Sampras in the all-time list, closing in on Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (17).
“Of course it motivates to “have a shot" at Swiss great Roger Federer's all-time men's record of 20 Grand Slam victories”, says Djokovic adding, “I'm aware that making history in the sport I truly love is something special”.
After being ranked outside the world's top 20 last July after coming back from elbow surgery, Djokovic seemed grateful for this win. "Twelve months ago it was highly unlikely I would be holding three Slams. Not impossible, but highly unlikely. I don't want to sound arrogant, but I always believe in myself. I think probably the biggest secret of my success, if I can say, or probably any other athlete, is self-belief”, he said.
Djokovic stated victory over Nadal in Sunday's one-sided final ranked "at the top" of his 15 major triumphs.
Meanwhile, even after the defeat, Spanish master Rafael Nadal was as gracious as always when he heaped praises on opponent Djokovic by saying, “It was an amazing level of tennis tonight and during both weeks from Djokovic”.
He also vowed to come back and become an even better player as he continues his return from injury. “Talking about myself, it has been a very emotional two weeks. Even if tonight wasn’t my best day, of course I had somebody that played much better than me tonight. Even if tonight was not my night, it is so important to be where I am today again coming back from injury. I only can say one thing- I am going to keep fighting hard; I am going to keep working hard to be a better player”, said Nadal, who reached the final despite not having played since the US Open in an objectively terrific achievement.
Djokovic, who reclaimed the world number one ranking in November, will go to the French Open in May aiming to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time in his career.