10 best Australian Open finals

best Australian Open finals
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As the Australian Open 2024 climaxes, Novak Djokovic’s surprising exit in the semi-finals and Aryna Sabalenka’s quest to defend her title have added an extra layer of anticipation.

In the men’s division, Jannik Sinner’s triumph over Djokovic opens the door for a new champion as he takes on the challenge of Daniil Medvedev. Meanwhile, Sabalenka faces the challenge of Chinese standout Qinwen Zheng in the women’s final.

Amidst this unfolding drama, let’s rewind and relive the excitement by exploring the 10 best Australian Open finals—moments etched in tennis history that exemplify the tournament’s rich legacy, from fierce rivalries to unforgettable comebacks, showcasing the pinnacle of skill and determination on the courts of Melbourne.

10 best Australian Open finals

The Rod Laver Arena fiesta has seen iconic rivalries to thrilling comebacks unfold. These finals have defined the essence of the Australian Open, showcasing the grit, determination, and brilliance of tennis legends on the grandest stage Down Under. Not to favour the ATP extravaganza over the WTA one and vice versa, we have segregated our list. Here are the top 5 best Australian Open finals for men.

5 best ATP Australian Open finals

1987: Stefan Edberg defeats Pat Cash – 6–3, 6–7(3–7), 3–6, 6–1, 8–6

In the gripping finale of the 1988 Australian Open, the tennis world witnessed a clash that reverberated with national pride and the pursuit of Grand Slam glory. Pat Cash, the Australian tennis sensation, stood on the precipice of etching his name in history as the third Aussie to clinch a Grand Slam title on home soil, marking the tournament’s 12th year. However, destiny had other plans, and standing in his way was the formidable Swedish maestro, Stefan Edberg.

In a seesaw battle that unfolded over five sets, Edberg showcased his exceptional skill and resilience, to deny Cash the coveted victory by 6–3, 6–7(3–7), 3–6, 6–1, 8–6 and his second Australian Open title. It was a similar story next year as Edberg’s compatriot, Mats Wilander defeated Cash in for honours.

2008: Novak Djokovic defeats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(2)

This match has a dedicated page in the annals of tennis history. In the scintillating finale, Djokovic clashed with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a battle that would not only define the tournament but also mark the beginning of a remarkable era in tennis.

The final unfolded as a showcase of skill, athleticism, and mental fortitude that would become Djokovic’s staple in the coming years. The Serbian conceded the first set 4-6 but would rally to triumph 6-4, 6-3 and 7-6. The 2008 Australian Open final was the inception of a Grand Slam journey that would see Djokovic capture a further nine titles at the iconic Rod Laver Arena en route to his tally of 24 and beyond.

best Australian Open finals
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2012: Novak Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal – 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5

At the peak of their powers, Novak and Rafa met in the 2012 Australian Open final that would go on to etch its place in tennis lore. In an epic battle for supremacy that lasted five sets at the Rod Laver Arena, it was the Djoker who cemented his legacy in that marathon match that lasted for nearly six hours.

Djokovic came from a set down to make it 2-1 before Nadal made it 2-2 with a tiebreaker win. The final set was heading the same route before Djokovic ended the Spaniard’s hopes to take it 7-4. It was his third AO final, one that allowed him to stamp his authority over his peers with good measure.

2018: Roger Federer defeats Marin Cilic – 6–2, 6–7(5–7), 6–3, 3–6, 6–1

Marin Cilic only has the 2014 US Open title to show for. Like Andy Murray, that number would have been great had he not stumbled across Federer in 2018. Moreover, a list of best Australian Open finals will be incomplete without the Swiss maestro’s mention. The Australian Open final bore witness to a tennis spectacle that transcended the boundaries of age and time as 36-year-old Federer claimed his sixth Australian Open crown at Cilic’s expense.

The Swiss maestro exhibited his trademark grace and finesse, had to battle for five sets to set his legend in stone. It was 2-2 heading into the final set, where Federer had to find a way to tame Cilic’s booming serves and aggressive baseline game. And the answer came as Federer blew his Croatian rival out of the water 6-1.

2022: Rafael Nadal defeats Daniil Medvedev – 2–6, 6–7(5–7), 6–4, 6–4, 7–5

The 2022 Australian Open was in the news for all the wrong reasons following Novak’s deportation at the event’s onset. However, it had a fairytale ending as Nadal took on the challenge of Megamind in the final. The duo were engaged in a tennis epic that will be remembered for its dramatic twists and extraordinary resilience.

The men’s singles final unfolded as a five-set thriller on the iconic courts of Melbourne Park, culminating in Nadal’s triumphant victory over Medvedev with a scoreline of 2–6, 6–7(5–7), 6–4, 6–4, 7–5. The come-from-behind victory helped him seal his second Australian title, further proving that he was not just a clay court merchant and could hold his own at the faster arena as well.

5 best WTA Australian Open finals

2019: Naomi Osaka defeats Petra Kvitova – 7–6(7–2), 5–7, 6–4

In a gripping and emotionally charged final at the 2019 Australian Open, Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova showcased the epitome of women’s tennis, delivering a three-set thriller that will be etched in the tournament’s history. The women’s singles final unfolded as a battle of determination, skill, and resilience on the iconic courts of Melbourne Park, ultimately culminating in Osaka’s hard-fought victory over Kvitova with a scoreline of 7–6(7–2), 5–7, 6–4.

The first set set the tone for the intense contest, with both players displaying their prowess in a tightly contested tiebreaker that saw Osaka emerge victorious. Kvitova, however, responded with sheer grit, claiming the second set 5–7 and setting the stage for a dramatic decider. As the final set unfolded, the Japanese sensation showcased her mental fortitude, ultimately securing the final set 6–4 and clinching her maiden Australian Open title.

best Australian Open finals
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2016: Angelique Kerber defeats Serena Williams – 6–4, 3–6, 6–4

Serena Williams has seven Australian Open titles to her name. That number would have surely been greater had her rivals not stood up to her for their own chance at glory. In her journey to the world number 1 ranking, Angelique Kerber overcame this stiff test at Rod Laver Arena in a gruelling three-set duel.

Kerber emerged as the unassuming force that dethroned the dominant Serena. The German showcased a blend of tenacity, precision, and unwavering self-belief to claim the first set 6–4. Undeterred, Williams mounted a comeback in the second set but it was to no avail. In a dramatic and closely contested final set, Kerber displayed nerves of steel, fending off Williams’ relentless attacks and capitalizing on crucial opportunities to secure the final set 6–4 to claim her first Grand Slam title.

2002: Jennifer Capriati defeats Martina Hingis – 4–6, 7–6(9–7), 6–2

The narrative for the 2002 Australian Open women’s singles final was strong even before the festivities began. It was Hingis’ sixth successive final at Rod Laver Arena and the rollercoaster of emotions and fierce competition that came next in the thrilling three-set battle lived up to it.

From the outset, Hingis showcased her trademark precision and court craft, claiming the first set with a scoreline of 4–6. However, Capriati, known for her resilience and fighting spirit, claimed the second set on a hard-fought tie-breaker 7–6(9–7). It stole the momentum from Hingis, who allowed the American to seize control of the match, securing the third set 6–2 and the championship.

2003: Serena Williams defeats Venus Williams – 7–6(7–4), 3–6, 6–4

This list of the best Australian Open finals will be incomplete without a mention of Serena Williams. Moreover, this match cannot be excluded as it takes the cake with both Williams sisters battling for honours Down Under, showcasing an unparalleled sibling rivalry.

The tone for the duel was set in the first set where it was difficult to separate the duo. It went to a tense tiebreaker, where Serena clinched a 7–6(7–4) victory. Venus responded with her trademark resilience, capturing the second set with a scoreline of 3–6. In a gripping climax, Serena secured the final set 6–4, and her first Australian Open title before adding six more until her retirement.

best Australian Open finals
Photo by Icon sport

2023: Aryna Sabalenka defats Elena Rybakina – 4–6, 6–3, 6–4

We were thinking about Li Na’s victory over Dominika Cibulkova after being the beaten finalist only a year earlier. However, we are going with Sabalenka’s come-from-behind victory against Elena Rybakina as the finale has served as cementing the duo’s place in the current context of women’s tennis.

The duo have not looked back since and have exchanged blows regularly at the highest echelons of WTA. This match was no different and has set the tone of their rivalry. Rybakina was the one who delivered the first blow, taking the first set 6-4. It was her only hurrah as she could not handle Sabalenka’s power, who would regroup to take the second set 6-3 and then the championship set 6-4.

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