Two of the best players in history stepped onto the Rod Laver Arena court in 2021, seeking a spot in the Australian Open final. Melbourne legends Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams faced Aslan Karatsev and Naomi Osaka, respectively, in totally different paths to a Major title match.
Djokovic scored an emphatic victory over the first Major semifinalist, while Williams ran out of the gate in straight sets in her last notable run at the Majors. Novak defeated Karatsev 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 53 minutes, with 17 aces and two service losses.
The Russian qualifier was unable to match those numbers. He suffered six breaks and was helpless against Novak's 30 winners and 14 unforced errors. Djokovic thus advanced to his ninth Australian Open final, never losing a match in Melbourne after passing the quarterfinal stage!
On the other hand, Serena suffered a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Osaka. The legend failed to reach the first Australian Open final since 2017, missing another chance to add a 24th Major title to her rich collection. Making too many unforced errors, Serena lost ground at 2-0 in the first set and 4-4 in the second to propel the Japanese.
Williams broke down in tears during the press conference and walked out on her after a couple of minutes, feeling that it might be her last chance to win another Major. Speaking of Serena, Novak praised the American as one of the greatest athletes in history, highlighting her legacy and feeling honored to share the tennis court at the same time with the legend.
"Regardless of how many years you've played on the Tour and regardless of experience, you still feel the pressure on your shoulders."
Ivanisevic talks about Djokovic
Novak Djokovic ended his 2022 season on a high, recapturing the ATP Finals crown after a long gap of seven years.
"He's practicing even harder than he was at 22," Ivanisevic said. "That's why he's still so good. You know, the will to practice to improve, the will to be better is amazing. He's taking care of his body. In my time, we stop tennis at 31, you're ready to leave...
Look at Roger [Federer], couple years back. Look at Rafa [Nadal]. They'll talk about young players, and it's great for tennis. You have the youngest number one in the world, Carlos. But you know, look at Novak, he's still hungry, still winning, he's still playing unbelievable tennis."