Mendoza: The other winner

Al Mendoza
·2 min read

Naomi Osaka seems destined to author the next chapter of women’s tennis. Novak Djokovic isn’t about ready to let the young lads take over.

That pretty much sums up the just-ended Australian Open. And more.

In emerging victorious, Osaka carved out an unbelievable 6-3, 6-4 destruction of Serena Williams, the long reigning American tennis queen.

“Growing up, she was my idol,” said Osaka of Williams.

Osaka’s decisive conquest of Williams seemed to signal the so-called changing of the guard, and also somehow shove the Japanese juggernaut to a walk in the park at Melbourne Park.

At only 23, Osaka exhibited a brutal dominance in thrashing Williams, who, at 39, had shown signs of slowing down. It dampened her burning bid of equaling the 24 Grand Slams held by Margaret Court.

Court, now 78, had earlier created a minor furor by saying she would have not attended the awarding ceremonies if “I had been invited.” Court, who was not invited, recently earned the ire of the LGBT movement for opposing same-sex marriage.

In winning her fourth straight Slam, Osaka routed Jennifer Brady, the 25-year-old American upstart, 6-4, 6-3. Osaka won after only 77 minutes to extend her unbeaten streak in a Slam final—adding the 2018 US Open, 2019 Australian Open and 2020 US Open.

But while Djokovic also dished off an equally scintillating Finals performance, his victory was another testament to his staying power that has now given him 18 Slams, half of that coming in the Australian Open.

His 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Daniil Medvedev, the 25-year-old Russian, was so decisive that the 33-year-old Serbian solidly appeared bent on winning more majors. He is now just two short of the record 20 Slams shared by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

“He will soon hit it big,” said Djokovic of Medvedev, whose infamous temper saw him smash his racket to deformity right after losing the second set.

Djokovic, now a perfect 9-0 in the Aussie Open Finals, pocketed $2 million plus like Osaka in the year’s first of four Slams.

And, for having survived the pandemic, with a live audience at that, the tournament itself was also a winner big time. Worth an ace.