By Garrett Glaeser, Sports Editor
Early Sunday morning EST world second ranked Novak Djokovic took down fifth seeded Dominic Thiem 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to capture his eighth Australian Open title and seventeenth Grand Slam championship victory.
Djokovic, the defending champion, had to make his way through tough opponents in the quarter and semifinals, but the Serbian played hard and never dropped a set. He took down the Canadian Milos Raonic (6-4, 6-3, 7-6) and arguably the greatest player ever, Roger Federer (7-6, 6-4, 6-3).
Thiem himself had quite the task to get to the final against Djokovic. In the quarterfinals he dethroned world No. 1 Rafael Nadal 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (8-6) in an absolutely grueling dogfight. In the semis the Austrian again fought through a few tiebreaks against Germany’s Alexander Zverev, winning in four sets 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4).
In the final, however, Djokovic’s experience in championship play proved crucial especially after dropping the second and third sets. With the win Djokovic further cemented his legacy down under, as he now holds a two championship lead over Roger Federer for most all time at the event. However, Federer maintains a strong hold with most Grand Slams all time with 20, three ahead of Djokovic’s now 17.
On the women’s side, the final between the No. 14 seed American Sofia Kenin and unranked Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza saw a closely contested first set and then back to back 6-2 sets in Kenin’s favor to win the match.
Kenin, 22, like Thiem, had to take down the No. 1 seed to reach the final. Her match with Australian hometown favorite Ashleigh Barty was a two set brawl, where she won 7-6 (8-6), 7-5.
Earlier in the tournament Kenin had to face fellow American, 15-year-old Cori Gauff, who had been on a bit of a roll in the tournament, taking down Venus Williams in the First Round and defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka in the Third Round.
Muguruza had no easy path to the final herself, having to beat four ranked opponents to reach the final, the toughest of which was Simona Halep, winner of Wimbledon last year.
Serena Williams again had a disappointing showing in the Grand Slam, falling to Qiang Wang 4-6, 6-7 (2-7), 7-5.
In the other events of the Australian Open the Brit and American duo of Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury defeated the Australian pair of Max Purcell and Luke Saville 6-4, 6-2.
Su-Wei Hsieh (Chinese Taipei) and Barbora Strycova (Czech Republic) beat out Timea Babos (Hungary) and Kristina Mladenovic (France) for the women’s doubles title 6-2, 6-1.
In mixed doubles, American Bethaine Mattek-Sands and Brit Jamie Murray edged out Barbora Krejcikova (Czech Republic) and Nikola Mektic (Croatia) 7-5, 4-6, 0-1 (1-10).
The Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune, India is next up on the schedule for many of the players that made an early exit from Melbourne. The next Grand Slam, the French Open, isn’t until May 24. Three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal will look for his thirteenth career championship at Rolland Garros.