Serbian Novak Djokovic played unbelievably flawless tennis in reeling off a third Grand Slam title in a row since Wimledon 2018, and an astounding seventh Australian Open title. In demolishing World No. 2 Rafale Nadal, just back from ankle surgery, the top-ranked player showed how much of a gulf there is between him and others in this comeback phase of his incredible career. The match statistics of the Serb winning 40 of his 50 first serves, and just about nine unforced errors, were testament to the level at which he’s playing, which gives him a chance to triumph in four Grand Slams in a row in Paris for the second time in his career. With 15 Grand Slams under his belt, Djokovic is only behind Nadal and Federer. The graciousness with which he spoke of his opponent was symptomatic of the rarefied heights to which Djokovic has taken his game and his persona.
Exhibiting her own consistency at the Australian Open was Naomi Osaka, who won her second Slam in a row after the US Open. Considering eight different women, including Naomi, had won the Grand Slams in 2017 and 2018, Osaka’s second win in a row suggests a potential to rule tennis as Japan’s and, more significantly, Asia’s first ever World No. 1 since rankings began in 1975. The player of Haitian-Japanese extraction, born and raised in Japan, may look out of place in a kind of racially homogenous country like Japan, but she is earning respect even as her country begins to respect diversity and shows sensitivity in curbing advertisements with a racial tilt.