Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The newest Australian Open champs are
no strangers to the winners' circle in Melbourne.
World No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka repeated as champions at the
first Grand Slam event of the year, as Djokovic three-peated Down Under for
his fourth career Aussie Open crown, while Azarenka captured a second
straight Oz title and second career major championship.
Djokovic is the first-ever man to three-peat at the Aussie in the Open Era
(since 1968), this after overcoming good friend Andy Murray (who was slowed by
a blister problem on his right foot) 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2 in a four-
set finale at Rod Laver Arena. Djokovic has won four of his six major titles
in Melbourne, where he's now 39-5 overall and secured his first career Grand
Slam title came back in 2008.
The 25-year-old Djokovic still needs a French Open win to complete a career
Grand Slam, and he'll take a crack at that this spring in Paris.
The superb Serb has now won five of the last nine major titles overall, a
Federeresque-type achievement to say the least, and improved to 6-3 in his
career Grand Slam finals.
Note: Following the latest addition of Djokovic, the Norman Brookes Challenge
Cup is now filled to capacity in terms of men's Aussie Open champions' names
engraved on the trophy. Now what?
Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Murray has lost in three of the last four Aussie
Open finals, dropping 9-of-10 sets in the process. The talented British star
beat Djokovic in five sets in September's U.S. Open final.
Murray titled in Sydney a few weeks ago and had been 10-0 in 2013 before
running into the buzz saw that is Djokovic.
The sturdy Scot is now 1-5 in his career major finals.
Azarenka, meanwhile, has proven to be the queen of the Aussie Open, having
won 14 straight matches in Melbourne, with her latest victory coming over now
two-time runner-up Li Na.
The Minsk native is the third woman this century to win back-to-back Aussie
Open titles, joining Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati.
The 23-year-old Azarenka dropped the first set against the former French Open
champion Li in a wild women's final, but the Belarusian star righted the ship
en route to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 decision in a match that featured a pro-Li crowd,
a break for fireworks, two medical timeouts, and a nasty fall to the court by
the Chinese star.
The 30-year-old Li first tumbled to the court after twisting her left ankle in
the fifth game of the second set. And on the first point following a 10-minute
pause in the third while fireworks erupted overhead from nearby Australia Day
celebrations, Li fell again, smacking the back of her head on the court. She
was treated and had another timeout before being allowed to resume the hotly
Azarenka has now appeared in three of the last five major finals on the
women's side. In addition to her Aussie titles, she lost to Serena in the
most-recent U.S. Open finale.
Li fell to 1-2 in her major finals, having played in three of the last nine
Grand Slam finals for the ladies.
Note: The trophy engraver mistakenly engraved Azarenka's country affiliation
as "BEL," which is Belgium, not "BLR," which is Belarus, on the Daphne Akhurst
Memorial Cup. Ouch.
The pre-Aussie Open favorite Serena failed to secure a third straight Grand
Slam title and 16th career major championship after exiting Melbourne in the
quarterfinals, where the third-seeded former world No. 1 was stunned by 29th-
seeded fellow American Sloane Stephens in three sets. The mighty Serena is the
reigning Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Olympic and WTA Championships titlist.
The aforementioned former top-ranked Federer is the reigning Wimbledon
champion who has captured only one Aussie title now over the last five years.
The 31-year-old Swiss legend lost a tough five-setter at the hands of Murray
in the semis in Melbourne this year, this after surviving a rugged five-set
quarterfinal bout against former Aussie finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Note: Djokovic, the 17-time Grand Slam king Federer and Andre Agassi are the
only four-time men's Aussie champs in the Open Era.
In last year's men's Aussie final, Djokovic outlasted former champion and
French Open stalwart Rafael Nadal in the longest-ever Grand Slam final, a
grueling 5-hour, 53-minute epic that ended in the morning hours in the
And what happened to French Open champion and 2012 Aussie runner-up Maria
Sharapova in Melbourne? The former No. 1 career Grand Slam winner and former
Aussie champ was upended by the hard-hitting Li in the semifinals. The Russian
superstar has still failed to win any major more than once in her fine career.
Also in Melbourne, the veteran twin Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, became the
most decorated doubles team in Grand Slam history by winning their 13th major
title. The 34-year-old Americans had been tied with Australian greats John
Newcombe and Tony Roche with 12 Grand Slam titles.
For the record, an Aussie man hasn't captured his home Slam since 1976 (Mark
Edmondson) and an Aussie woman hasn't run the table Down Under since 1978
The next Grand Slam event will start up in the last week of May in the City of
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