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Dominant as ever

Dominant as ever

World number Novak Djokovic and his great Spanish rival Rafael Nadal met in the final of a Grand Slam for the eighth time on Sunday, with the former winning quite emphatically. The top two seeds will pull away from the rest pack when the new ATP Rankings are released. Last year Djokovic was stunned in the fourth round by Hyeon Chung and Nadal retired in the fifth set of his quarter-final against Marin Cilic. Both players had ATP Ranking points to gain by going deep in Melbourne this year. They have capitalised by battling to the championship match. Djokovic will remain World No. 1 on 28 January, and Nadal will stay at No. 2. But even if Nadal loses to Djokovic, the 17-time major champion will be 1,845 points ahead of World No. 3 Alexander Zverev. With an emphatic win on Sunday, Djokovic strengthened his advantage over Nadal. The Serb now has a 2,635-point cushion over his Spanish rival. The incredible thing about the Big Two is how they stamped their authority over the rest of the young challengers at the season's first grand slam. To think this was Nadal's first tournament since hobbling out of the US Open last year makes it all the more remarkable. Djokovic seems in no mood to relinquish his number one ranking anytime soon. There was heartbreak for Roger Federer fans with his shock defeat at the hands of young Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. It was not as if the Swiss superstar was playing poorly but his young challenger was playing the match of his life. However, the early exit of former world number one Andy Murray was tragic. It is curtains for one member of the Big Four (the other three being Djokovic, Nadal and Federer). It is the end of an era. But the other three are not going anywhere, anytime soon. Young Turks like Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Borna Ćorić, Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov have been breathing down the necks of the great champions. However, the old order seems unlikely to give way to the new in 2019. These are exciting times for tennis. The legends are still rewriting the record books; the younger brigade made a mark at the Masters 1000 events in 2018. Will they continue to do so this year? The year's first grand slam was an eye-opener. Novak is the undisputed number one, the tennis equivalent of Superman. Rafa is injury-free and looks forward another remarkable clay court swing. Things could not look rosier for tennis aficionados.

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