by Bob Stockton
A new year brings the prospect of another four tennis Grand Slams, and all the biggest names will be battling it out in Melbourne to get their hands on the first Grand Slam title of 2021. After a turbulent year for the sport in 2020, tennis fans will be hoping that this year can be an antidote to the difficult times endured by many over the last 12 months, as the coronavirus pandemic has made such a huge impact on our lives.
Strict quarantine rules have been followed by players ahead of the Australian Open, and safety is paramount in ensuring that this year’s tournament lives up to the fantastic editions that have played out in previous years. All attention will be on the bet exchange as punters try and predict which players will make the final, which takes place on February 21st. The Melbourne showpiece has thrown up some cracking contests in the men’s singles over the years, so as we build up to the 2021 edition, let’s take a look back at the last five Australian Open finals.
2020: Dominic Thiem v Novak Djokovic
Last year’s final proved to be an entertaining five-set affair, as Novak Djokovic earned his eighth Australian Open title with a hard-fought victory over Dominic Thiem. Although the Serb took the first set, Thiem fought back to win the following two, giving him a 2-1 lead. But the experienced Djokovic capitalised on the Austrian’s failure to handle the pressure, winning the final two sets to win the final 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
2019: Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal
Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have met in a plethora of Grand Slam finals over the years, and have played out some true epics in their respective quests for dominance in the sport. The 2019 Australian Open final, however, was not such a classic. In inspired form, Djokovic made life difficult for the Spaniard from the very first game, and Nadal simply couldn’t cope. The Serb took just over two hours to dispatch Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
2018: Marin Čilić v Roger Federer
The fact that before his recent injury and surgery, Roger Federer was still going strong and competing at the business end of tournaments, shows just what enduring talent and determination he possesses. In January 2018, he completed a stellar run to the Australian Open title, but he was really made to sweat in the final by Marin Čilić. The pair were tit-for-tat in the opening four sets, leaving a final-set decider to see who would come out on top. In the end, Federer’s class and experience made all the difference, as he dominated the final set to complete a 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory, collecting his 20th Grand Slam title in the process.
2017: Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal
The 2017 Australian Open pitted two great friends and rivals against each other in the showpiece event. Both Federer and Nadal showed their quality to reach the final, after defending champion Djokovic had suffered a shock second-round defeat at the hands of Denis Istomin. The final lived up to its billing, as Federer and Nadal served up a five-set cracker, and with nothing to split the pair after four sets played, the Swiss legend stepped up and delivered the knockout blow in the fifth set. The final score was 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
2016: Novak Djokovic v Andy Murray
Djokovic and Andy Murray have met in four Australian Open finals, with the most recent of these occurring in 2016. Unfortunately for the Scot, Djokovic has triumphed on all four occasions, and he produced a fine display to beat Murray in three sets in January 2016. Murray failed to get out of the traps quickly, and Djokovic won the first set with ease. From there, the Scot found some form and was able to push his opponent, but Djokovic simply had too much quality, and emerged the victory 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3).