Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The newest Australian Open champs are no strangers to the winners' circle in Melbourne.
World No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka repeated as champions at the first Grand Slam event of the year, as Djokovic three-peated Down Under for his fourth career Aussie Open crown, while Azarenka captured a second straight Oz title and second career major championship.
Djokovic is the first-ever man to three-peat at the Aussie in the Open Era (since 1968), this after overcoming good friend Andy Murray (who was slowed by a blister problem on his right foot) 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2 in a four- set finale at Rod Laver Arena. Djokovic has won four of his six major titles in Melbourne, where he's now 39-5 overall and secured his first career Grand Slam title came back in 2008.
The 25-year-old Djokovic still needs a French Open win to complete a career Grand Slam, and he'll take a crack at that this spring in Paris.
The superb Serb has now won five of the last nine major titles overall, a Federeresque-type achievement to say the least, and improved to 6-3 in his career Grand Slam finals.
Note: Following the latest addition of Djokovic, the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup is now filled to capacity in terms of men's Aussie Open champions' names engraved on the trophy. Now what?
Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Murray has lost in three of the last four Aussie Open finals, dropping 9-of-10 sets in the process. The talented British star beat Djokovic in five sets in September's U.S. Open final.
Murray titled in Sydney a few weeks ago and had been 10-0 in 2013 before running into the buzz saw that is Djokovic.
The sturdy Scot is now 1-5 in his career major finals.
Azarenka, meanwhile, has proven to be the queen of the Aussie Open, having won 14 straight matches in Melbourne, with her latest victory coming over now two-time runner-up Li Na.
The Minsk native is the third woman this century to win back-to-back Aussie Open titles, joining Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati.
The 23-year-old Azarenka dropped the first set against the former French Open champion Li in a wild women's final, but the Belarusian star righted the ship en route to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 decision in a match that featured a pro-Li crowd, a break for fireworks, two medical timeouts, and a nasty fall to the court by the Chinese star.
The 30-year-old Li first tumbled to the court after twisting her left ankle in the fifth game of the second set. And on the first point following a 10-minute pause in the third while fireworks erupted overhead from nearby Australia Day celebrations, Li fell again, smacking the back of her head on the court. She was treated and had another timeout before being allowed to resume the hotly contested match.
Azarenka has now appeared in three of the last five major finals on the women's side. In addition to her Aussie titles, she lost to Serena in the most-recent U.S. Open finale.
Li fell to 1-2 in her major finals, having played in three of the last nine Grand Slam finals for the ladies.
Note: The trophy engraver mistakenly engraved Azarenka's country affiliation as "BEL," which is Belgium, not "BLR," which is Belarus, on the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. Ouch.
The pre-Aussie Open favorite Serena failed to secure a third straight Grand Slam title and 16th career major championship after exiting Melbourne in the quarterfinals, where the third-seeded former world No. 1 was stunned by 29th- seeded fellow American Sloane Stephens in three sets. The mighty Serena is the reigning Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Olympic and WTA Championships titlist.
The aforementioned former top-ranked Federer is the reigning Wimbledon champion who has captured only one Aussie title now over the last five years. The 31-year-old Swiss legend lost a tough five-setter at the hands of Murray in the semis in Melbourne this year, this after surviving a rugged five-set quarterfinal bout against former Aussie finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Note: Djokovic, the 17-time Grand Slam king Federer and Andre Agassi are the only four-time men's Aussie champs in the Open Era.
In last year's men's Aussie final, Djokovic outlasted former champion and French Open stalwart Rafael Nadal in the longest-ever Grand Slam final, a grueling 5-hour, 53-minute epic that ended in the morning hours in the 'Bourne.
And what happened to French Open champion and 2012 Aussie runner-up Maria Sharapova in Melbourne? The former No. 1 career Grand Slam winner and former Aussie champ was upended by the hard-hitting Li in the semifinals. The Russian superstar has still failed to win any major more than once in her fine career.
Also in Melbourne, the veteran twin Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, became the most decorated doubles team in Grand Slam history by winning their 13th major title. The 34-year-old Americans had been tied with Australian greats John Newcombe and Tony Roche with 12 Grand Slam titles.
For the record, an Aussie man hasn't captured his home Slam since 1976 (Mark Edmondson) and an Aussie woman hasn't run the table Down Under since 1978 (Chris O'Neil).
The next Grand Slam event will start up in the last week of May in the City of Light.