Novak Djokovic won a record seventh Australian Open title and a third successive Grand Slam yesterday as he swept aside Rafael Nadal in Melbourne.
The Serb, rarely troubled on his serve, won 6-3 6-2 6-3 for his biggest victory in a major final over his great rival.
Spanish second seed Nadal, 32, looked rattled by the world number one’s intensity and made 28 unforced errors.
Djokovic, 31, won in two hours and four minutes to move clear of six-time men’s winners Roy Emerson and Roger Federer.
A forehand winner down the line brought up two championship points, Djokovic taking the second when Nadal clubbed a backhand long.
Djokovic, who was the top seed, fell to his knees after sealing another triumph on Rod Laver Arena, smacking the court with both hands and screaming towards the sky.
The reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion claimed his 15th Grand Slam title, moving him outright third ahead of American Pete Sampras in the all-time list, closing in on Switzerland’s Federer (20) and Nadal (17).
Djokovic has now won 13 of his past 16 meetings with Nadal, who has not beaten the Serb on a hard court since the US Open final in 2013.
He leads 28-25 in their record 53 meetings between two male players.
Djokovic continued his fine record of going on to win the tournament every time he has reached the semi-finals, while Nadal lost for a fourth time in the Melbourne showpiece.
The result meant the 2009 winner was unable to become the first man in the Open era to win all the Grand Slams at least twice and was the first time he had lost a major final in straight sets.
Djokovic said his clinical semi-final win over French 28th seed Lucas Pouille on Friday was one of his best performances on Rod Laver Arena.
Two days later, he surpassed that against the man with whom he shares what many consider to be the greatest male rivalry.
Most expected a much closer encounter between the pair, whose previous meeting at Melbourne Park had been the epic 2012 final, which lasted five sets and almost six hours.
Quickly it became apparent that a repeat was unlikely in front of a stunned crowd.
Djokovic was as close to flawless as he could have been – dominating on serve, controlling the rallies with crisp groundstrokes, rarely making a mistake and showing incredible athleticism around the court.
His tally of 34 winners and nine unforced errors highlights how high his level was.
The Serb made a fast start by breaking in Nadal’s first service game and, although that was the only break in the opener, the gulf between the players felt much wider.
He took his first set point after landing a first serve which Nadal could only bat back into the net, wrapping up the opener in only 38 minutes.
More pressure came on Nadal’s serve immediately in the second set, Djokovic eventually going a break up in the fifth game and, after surviving Nadal taking him to deuce in the following game, broke again to leave him serving for a two-set lead.
Djokovic then underlined his dominance by firing down three aces to leave him one set away from the title.
Another break for a 2-1 lead in the third put Djokovic on his way to a comfortable win, before he fought off a break point in the sixth game and then sealed victory on the Nadal serve.