MELBOURNE, Australia — The way things went at the Australian Open didn’t exactly teach the world that Novak Djokovic is the best there is in men’s tennis right now. Certainly confirmed it, though.
And while those within the game knew all about Naomi Osaka, she made sure her talent is more obvious to more people.
Djokovic, a 31-year-old already ranked No. 1, now has won the past three men’s Grand Slam titles. Osaka, who earned her debut at No. 1 at age 21, has won the last two women’s trophies at majors.
When it’s time for the next Grand Slam tournament — the French Open, four months from now — all eyes should be on them.
“Obviously, it’s just the beginning of the season. I know there’s a lot of tournaments to play before Roland Garros, so I have plenty of time to build my form slowly,” Djokovic said. “I have to work on my game, my clay-court game, a bit more.”
After his impressive 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the final at Melbourne Park on Sunday, Djokovic can pursue a fourth consecutive major championship, something he already accomplished from 2015-16.
But the possibility also exists for him to aim for a calendar-year Grand Slam, something last done 50 years ago by Rod Laver.
It’s the kind of thing that could get everyone talking about tennis.
As for Osaka — a 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 winner over Petra Kvitova in Saturday’s final — what makes her sudden surge to the top particularly noteworthy is that it comes right after a period of apparent depth but no dominance.
Until this Australian Open, eight women had divided the previous eight major titles. Not since Serena Williams took four in a row from 2014-15 had one woman won consecutive Slam tournaments.
And you have to go all the way back to Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to find a woman who won her first major championship and followed it up at the very next Slam with a second title.
“I always hear stories that the best players win matches even when they’re not playing their best. And I’ve always wondered how they did that,” Osaka said. “So I feel like this tournament, for me, was that.”
Djokovic is at the height of his powers. Osaka is only getting better. Who will challenge them?