Novak Djokovic inspired a comeback for Serbia as they defeated France 2-1 to seal a place in the ATP Cup quarter-finals.

Djokovic's compatriot Dusan Lajovic lost the opening singles rubber in Brisbane, but the world number two ensured Serbia will progress from Group A.

Motivated and frustrated by a passionate crowd in Serbia's opening tie with South Africa, Djokovic thrived in front of passionate support and made light work of Gael Monfils to level matters, dispatching him 6-3 6-2 to improve his record in their head to head to 16-0.

He and Viktor Troicki then required a match tie-break to see off Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 10-3 and seal victory, delighting fans that stayed into the early hours in Brisbane.

"We love playing for our country," Djokovic said in his on-court interview. "Thanks to the people for staying to almost 1am to support us. You guys are true tennis fans."

US Open champion Rafael Nadal was not required for double duty in Spain's tie with Uruguay in Perth, which saw him hammer Pablo Cuevas 6-2 6-1 to give his country an unassailable lead.

Earlier Roberto Bautista Agut hammered Franco Roncadelli, with Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez rounding off the tie with a dead rubber doubles win over Ariel Behar and Juan Martin Fumeaux.

Dominic Thiem defeated Diego Schwartzman in straight sets as Austria beat Argentina 3-0 to claim their first win of the inaugural tournament, while Croatia and Japan remain undefeated after 2-1 victories over Poland and Georgia respectively.

South Africa got off the mark with a 3-0 beating of Chile, Kevin Anderson claiming his first win since Wimbledon following a long lay-off with a knee injury as he eased to a 6-0 6-3 triumph against Cristian Garin.

 

Novak Djokovic matched Maria Sharapova's donation of $25,000 to help those affected by bushfires in Australia.

Bushfires have ravaged large parts of the country in recent months, with New South Wales and Victoria hugely impacted.

Sportspeople have rallied to raise funds for victims and Sharapova and Djokovic offered their help as the duo prepare for the upcoming Australian Open.

"The month of January in Australia has been my [home emoji] for the past 15 years," Sharapova wrote on Twitter.

"Watching the fires destroy the lands, its beautiful families and communities of animals is deeply [heartbreak emoji].

"I would like to begin my donation at 25K. @DjokerNole, would you match my donation? #letsallcometogether."

Djokovic responded on Monday, writing: "Yes, @MariaSharapova I would like to match your $25k donation to double the aid sent to these communities. We stand by you, #Australia."

World number two Djokovic will be aiming for an eighth Australian Open title and 17th major when the grand slam starts on January 20 in Melbourne.

Stefanos Tsitsipas delivered a fresh early-season blow to Alexander Zverev at the ATP Cup but ended the day disappointed as Greece lost to Germany in Brisbane.

ATP Finals champion Tsitsipas lost out in two tie-breaks to Denis Shapovalov when Greece were beaten by Canada on Friday, but on Sunday he had too much for another star of tennis' new generation.

This time Tsitsipas had it largely all his own way, trouncing an out-of-sorts Zverev 6-1 6-4 in the first meeting of two top-10 players at this inaugural event, which is in its round-robin stage.

Zverev certainly did not help himself, and it was a familiar failing that left him powerless to make an impression, serving 10 double faults and landing only 45% of his first serves as he lost to Tsitsipas for the fifth time in six career meetings.

"My serving isn't back yet. Simple as that," Zverev said on the ATP website.

"I'm doing double faults. I'm serving 120 kilometres an hour, that's not really going to cut it."

His win levelled the Group F tie after Jan-Lennard Struff's earlier win over Michail Pervolarakis, yet Tsitsipas and Greece would end the day dejected, with Tsitsipas and Pervolarakis losing a doubles epic 3-6 6-3 17-15, the marathon match tie-break going the way of Germany's Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, who saved six match points.

Tsitsipas said: "I'm proud of my singles. Doubles went good as well. I'm very proud of myself the way I played and at the same time I feel disappointed. I came so close and, obviously, we're not the favourites, but we could have been the ones that made the surprise today and we didn't, which is such a shame."

Shapovalov could not follow up his Friday win over Tsitsipas with another triumph over a fellow young prospect, edged out 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-2 by Australia's Alex de Minaur in a 3-0 defeat for Canada against the hosts in Brisbane.

De Minaur also beat Zverev on Friday and is making a sharp start to the year.

All eyes are on the pretenders to the sport's top prizes ahead of the Australian Open, and US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev rolled to an impressive 6-3 6-1 victory over American John Isner in Russia's 2-1 triumph over USA in Perth. Medvedev even prevailed 6-4 on the aces count against one of the biggest servers in the game.

Also in Perth, Italy were 2-1 winners over Norway, despite Casper Ruud's eye-catching 6-2 6-2 win over world number 12 Fabio Fognini.

Bulgaria followed up Friday's victory over Great Britain by felling Moldova 2-1 in Sydney, while the British team recovered from their loss to Grigor Dimitrov and co by notching a notable 2-1 win against Belgium.

Cameron Norrie lost to Steve Darcis in the opener, but Dan Evans scored an impressive 6-4 6-4 success against 11th-ranked David Goffin, before Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury landed a 6-3 7-6 (9-7) doubles win against Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen.

An emotional Nick Kyrgios explained his motivations for donating to the effort fighting Australia's bushfires after helping his nation to victory over Germany at the ATP Cup.

Kyrgios beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in Brisbane, sending down 20 aces after his pledge to give 200 Australian dollars to the bushfires effort for each service winner he hits in January.

Alex de Minaur – Kyrgios' team-mate at the event, who impressively came from a set down to defeat an ill-tempered Alex Zverev 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 – followed suit after Kyrgios tweeted his intention to help, while stars from other sports have also joined in.

Brisbane Heat captain Chris Lynn struck three sixes as he top-scored in his team's win over Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League on Friday, with each maximum worth $250 to the recovery effort.

"I don't really care about the praise too much. I just think we've got the ability and platform to do something like that," Kyrgios told Amazon Prime when asked about the movement he inadvertently started.

"My home town is Canberra and we've got the most toxic air in the world at the moment, so it is pretty sad. It's tough."

Having appeared choked up at that point, Kyrgios added: "I just chucked up a tweet and everyone got behind it. It is bigger than tennis.

"It's going to all the families, firefighters, animals, everyone who is losing homes, losing families. It's a real thing.

Australia completed a 3-0 Group F win after Chris Guccione and John Peers beat German doubles pair Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies 6-3 6-4.

In the section's other match, Canada were similarly emphatic against Greece, with Denis Shapovalov winning a pair of tie-breaks to best Stefanos Tsitsipas after Felix Auger-Aliassime demolished Michail Pervolarakis 6-1 6-3.

Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov then combined to win the doubles rubber against the same opponents, prevailing 6-2 6-3.

Great Britain and the United States both allowed leads to slip against Bulgaria and Norway respectively.

In Group C, Cameron Norrie beat world number 423 Dimitar Kuzmanov in three sets and Dan Evans made a fast start against Grigor Dimitrov to go a set up.

But Dimitrov prevailed 2-6 6-4 6-1 and he and Alexandar Lazarov triumphed after three tie-breaks against Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury in the small hours of the Sydney morning.

Taylor Fritz beat Viktor Durasovic 6-2 6-2 and John Isner had the USA in charge of the second singles rubber when he took the opening tie break versus Casper Ruud, only for two match points and a second breaker to go against him. He eventually lost, going down 7-5 in the deciding set.

Ruud and Durasovic then recovered from dropping the first set to beat Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram 10-5 in a match tie-break in Perth.

Steve Darcis and David Goffin inspired Belgium to a 3-0 Group C win over Moldova, while Daniil Medvedev's 1-6 6-1-6-3 victory against Fabio Fognini helped clinch a 3-0 victory for Russia against Italy in Group D.

The addition of a new tournament to the ATP calendar set tongues wagging when it was announced in November 2018.

That event, named the ATP Cup, is now upon us, but what exactly is it?

If you need to get up to speed with the who, what, where, when, why and how, look no further.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the ATP Cup.

WHAT IS IT?

Described by the ATP as "the most exciting new tournament in tennis", it features 24 nations represented by between three and five male players.

WHERE IS IT?

Australia will host the event across three cities: Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

WHEN IS IT?

The action starts on January 3 and concludes with the final nine days later.

WHO IS PLAYING?

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are two of the nine top-10 players in the line-up, with Roger Federer the odd one out.

WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING ABOUT IT?

"This is going to bring together a lot of nations and for me personally it will be a very nice and proud moment to represent my country." - Novak Djokovic

"We are not taking this competition like preparation for another one, even if the Australian Open is around the corner. It's a tournament that we want to compete well in." - Rafael Nadal

"We're all very excited to be a part of this first ever event." - John Isner

WHAT'S THE FORMAT?

The 24 teams are split into six groups of four and will play three round-robin ties, consisting of two singles matches and one doubles contest. The singles ties will be best of three sets with tie-breaks, while the doubles will employ no-advantage scoring and a match tie-break rather than a third set.

All the group winners will make it through to the knockout phase, along with the best two runners-up, making it the Final Eight. 

WHAT'S THE PRIZE?

The not inconsiderable sum of $22million AUD (£11.6m) is up for grabs, along with up to 750 singles ranking points along the way.

WHO IS GOING TO WIN?

You will of course need to wait and see to get an answer to that one, but Spain are favourites as Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut are in their ranks. Australia's home advantage could prove telling.

Nick Kyrgios has pledged to donate $200 for every ace he serves during the Australian summer for those affected by devastating bushfires in his homeland. 

At least 18 people have been killed as blazes ravage areas of New South Wales and Victoria.

A week-long state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales from Friday, with thousands of people told to evacuate the area between Batemans Bay and the border with the state of Victoria following the forecast of searing temperatures on Saturday.

Kyrgios proposed an exhibition match before the Australian Open and will use his powerful serve to help victims of the fires.

The world number 30 tweeted on Thursday: "I'm kicking off the support for those affected by the fires. I'll be donating $200 per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer."

Kyrgios' compatriots Alex de Minaur and John Millman responded by vowing to donate $250 and $100 per ace respectively.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley earlier posted on social media: "For weeks we've been watching the devastation caused by bushfires across Australia and the people affected are constantly in our thoughts.

"We want to help these communities in a meaningful way and will announce a number of fundraising initiatives that will be rolled out across the ATP Cup, Australian Open and our other events over the coming weeks."

Rafael Nadal insists he is not treating this month's ATP Cup as preparation for the Australian Open and will give everything to lead Spain to further tennis glory.

The world number one was in inspirational form when Spain triumphed in the inaugural Davis Cup Finals on home soil in November, winning all eight of his rubbers across singles and doubles.

Another team competition, the ATP Cup, now sees 24 countries do battle in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

The event takes place a fortnight before the first grand slam of the year in Melbourne, but for Nadal there is clear separation between the two Australian events.

"We are not taking this competition like preparation for another one, even if the Australian Open is around the corner," Nadal told reporters.

"It's a tournament that we want to compete well in, and then we'll have a week before the Australian Open for me personally to practice and for some of the others to play in Auckland or Adelaide.

"So we are very focused on trying to be ready for this competition. We are a team that gives the maximum. But there are other teams that are also prepared for that."

The presence of a fellow top-10 player in Roberto Bautista Agut has Spain rated as favourites for the new tournament, but there are other threats around.

Novak Djokovic plays for Serbia, while Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are also involved, meaning there is plenty of star power despite the absence of Roger Federer.

After previously discussing continuing his "love affair" with a country where he has won a record seven Australian Open titles, Djokovic feels energised ahead of the ATP Cup.

"The concept of ATP Cup does give us an opportunity to represent your country and be part of a team, which is not something we experience during the year very often," said Djokovic, who unlike at the Davis Cup has Dusan Lajovic as a Serbia team-mate this time around.

"It does feed you with energy and motivation. It's a lot of intensity on the court but also a lot of fun and relaxation off it."

Djokovic feels it will stand him in good stead for the Australian Open, adding: "I think so. I haven't been playing any Aussie opening-week-of-the-season tournament for a while.

"I have been playing mostly in Qatar. I think [starting the year in Brisbane] can help [my Australian Open chances]. I am here earlier than most years. I get acclimatised.

"I love being here - it feeds me with positive energy. I am still getting acclimatised. Back in Europe where I reside it is not as warm, it takes a bit of time, that is why I came here earlier."

The evolving world of sport means a new decade is likely to see widespread change.

With superstars like Lionel Messi, LeBron James, Roger Federer and Lewis Hamilton unlikely to be plying their trades in 2030, the stage is set for new names to come to the fore.

Omnisport's team of writers have tipped 20 20-year-olds to do just that over the next 10 years.

 

Men's football: Joao Felix

A €126m move from Benfica to Atletico Madrid made Joao Felix the second most expensive teenager in football history. His career in LaLiga is yet to truly ignite but the forward's lavish gifts are beyond doubt as he faces up to the decade when Cristiano Ronaldo will leave the stage for their native Portugal. Joao Felix is the anointed heir.

Basketball: Luka Doncic

The 2018 EuroLeague MVP and 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year, Doncic's incredible rise has continued unchecked this season – he is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 9.0 assists for the Dallas Mavericks. He should earn a first All-Star appearance this season and make his bow in the playoffs, where you would expect to see him featuring regularly in the coming years.

Cricket: Prithvi Shaw

Opening batsman Shaw became the youngest Indian to score a Test hundred on debut in 2018 and followed that up with a half-century in his second appearance. However, last year was one to forget for Shaw, who had injury problems before serving a six-month doping ban having taken a substance typically found in cough syrups. A first-class double hundred last month suggests he is ready to make up for lost time.

Tennis: Marketa Vondrousova

Although she was unable to win a title on the WTA Tour in 2019, Vondrousova was the runner-up at the French Open – one of three final appearances last year – and having risen to 16th in the world rankings she looks set to break the top 10 soon. The Czech's unorthodox playing style and penchant for drop shots makes her a particularly entertaining watch.

Formula One: Lando Norris

Norris enjoyed an excellent debut season in Formula One, helping McLaren to an impressive fourth place in the constructors' championship. After landing three straight points finishes to end the year, he carries momentum into 2020 and looks capable of challenging Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen over the next 10 years.

UFC: Chase Hooper

Featherweight Hooper was awarded a development deal after winning the second season of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2018 and is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He improved his unbeaten mixed martial arts record to 8-0-1 by stopping David Teymur in the first round of a thoroughly impressive UFC debut in December.

American football: Trevor Lawrence

The NFL is blessed with talented young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, but the potential star of the 2020s will not enter the league until 2021 at the earliest. Clemson's Lawrence possess the size, skill and nerve to succeed at the next level. He is still yet to lose a game in college and is one win away from back-to-back National Championships.

Sport climbing: Janja Garnbret

Sport climbing will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and Garnbret is a favourite for success. She successfully defended her bouldering and combined titles at last year's world championships and added gold in the lead discipline. The Slovenian's tally of 14 International Federation of Sport Climbing titles is unprecedented.

Rugby league: Tom Flegler

Front-rower Flegler enjoyed a hugely promising breakthrough year with Brisbane Broncos in 2019, featuring 23 times in his maiden campaign. He has reportedly knocked back a host of lucrative offers to remain with Brisbane in 2020 and will now aim to make an even bigger impact.

Women's football: Georgia Stanway

Vastly experienced for her age, Stanway joined Manchester City from Blackburn Rovers and made her Women's Super League debut at 16 in 2015. She won her second FA Cup with a goalscoring player-of-the-match display as City beat West Ham 3-0 in 2019's Wembley final and was the youngest member of an England squad Phil Neville led to the World Cup semi-finals. If the Lionesses are to take the next step over the coming decade, expect Stanway to play a vital role.

Rugby union: Marcus Smith

Harlequins fly-half Smith is knocking on the door for full England selection after an impressive first two years of his club career. He was man of the match in last July's win over Barbarians, which fans of Eddie Jones' side will hope is a sign of things to come over the next decade.

Golf: Matthew Wolff

The PGA Tour welcomed a host of talented rookies in 2019, but Wolff may just be the best of the bunch. A standout college player with an unorthodox swing that generates enormous power, he won last July's 3M Open in only his third professional start.

MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo

After Jorge Lorenzo, the only man to defeat Marc Marquez in a MotoGP world championship, retired, and with Valentino Rossi nearing the end of his career, fans are looking to the next generation. That group looks set to be led by Quartararo, who will ride a factory-spec Yamaha for 2020 after claiming six pole positions and seven podiums in a magnificent rookie season.

Golf: Nasa Hataoka

Already fifth in the women's world rankings, Hataoka has claimed three LPGA Tour titles in the past 18 months, after becoming the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour back in 2016.

Baseball: Vladimir Guerrero Jnr

Guerrero has a lot to live up to but has already shown enough to suggest he may follow his father into baseball's Hall of Fame. Having signed for the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in 2015, Guerrero served his time in the minors before making his debut in the Major Leagues last April. He spent the rest of his maiden season displaying the kind of power that has marked him out as a star of the future, hitting .272, mashing 15 home runs and knocking in 69 RBI. By the end of the next decade, his may well be the face of baseball.

Ice Hockey: Quinn Hughes

Hughes, who could not even debut for the Vancouver Canucks until he recovered from an ankle injury in March, is an elite defenseman who also sat top of the rookie assist chart in late December.

Swimming: Michael Andrew

This year is an Olympic one and for the first time since the 1996 Games, Michael Phelps will not be in the pool. The United States needs a new swimming hero, and the hope is that Phelps' namesake can be the next star. Andrew was the youngest US swimmer to ever turn professional when he did so at 14 and, having finished fourth in the 50 metres butterfly at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, he appears primed to be a breakout star in Tokyo.

Tennis: Denis Shapovalov

Shapovalov finished 2019 at a career-high ATP ranking of 15th, having won his first title in Stockholm. Expect his threat at the 2020 majors to be very real.

Athletics: Sydney McLaughlin

At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, gold in the 4x400 metres relay followed silver in the 400m hurdles for McLaughlin. Only a Dalilah Muhammad world record was enough to deny her the victory.

Boxing: Joseph Adorno

Currently plying his trade in the lightweight division, Adorno was brought up in Puerto Rico and his thunderous left hook has drawn comparisons to Miguel Cotto – the great four-weight world champion hailing from that boxing-mad island. Promoters Top Rank will look to step up Adorno's level of opposition in 2020, although anyone climbing into the corner opposite a young man boasting a 14-0 record with 12 knockouts should make sure they get well paid.

Kei Nishikori has withdrawn from next month's Australian Open and the inaugural ATP Cup as he continues to recover from elbow surgery.

The world number 13 went under the knife in October and has not played since his third-round exit at the US Open in August.

Nishikori was due to represent Japan in the ATP Cup in Perth but follows Yoshihito Nishioka in withdrawing from the team.

"Unfortunately I have to pull out of the ATP Cup and the Aussie Open," Nishikori said in a statement on his 30th birthday.

"Today, together with my team, we have made this decision as I am still not 100 per cent ready/healthy to compete at the highest level.

"This decision was not taken lightly as Australia is one of my favourite places to compete. Together with my team I will keep working hard to be back on court as soon as possible. Thanks for all the support."

Nishikori reached the Australian Open quarter-finals for the fourth time in 2019 after winning the Brisbane International.

The former world number four and 2014 US Open runner-up also recorded quarter-final appearances at the French Open and Wimbledon this year.

Andy Murray will miss the Australian Open as a precautionary measure after suffering an injury setback.

Murray feared his career may be over when he withdrew from the first grand slam of 2019 in Melbourne due to a long-term hip injury.

The three-time grand slam champion underwent career-saving hip resurfacing surgery last January and made his comeback only five months later.

Murray won the European Open in October and was expected to play in his first major singles tournament for a year next month, but is taking no chances.

"I've worked so hard to get myself into a situation where I can play at the top level and I’m gutted I’m not going to be able to play in Australia in January," said the 32-year-old, who will also miss the ATP Cup.

"After the AO this year, when I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to play again, I was excited about coming back to Australia and giving my best, and that makes this even more disappointing for me.

"Unfortunately I've had a setback recently and as a precaution, need to work through that before I get back on court competing."

Murray last month revealed he opted not to take any risks with a "bit of an issue" after only playing once for Great Britain in their run to the Davis Cup semi-finals.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said: "I know how excited Andy was about coming back to compete in Australia in January, and how disappointed he is not to make it for 2020,

"Andy's last match at the Australian Open was a five-set roller coaster [against Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round this year] that none of us who witnessed it will ever forget. His determination and iron will was on display for all to see, and it's that fighting spirit that has driven him to come back from a potentially career-ending injury to achieve the results he has this year.

"Although we will miss him in January, we wish him all the very best for his recovery and look forward to seeing him back on court very soon."

It was a decade dominated by the 'Big Three' and they delivered on multiple occasions on the biggest stages.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic dominated the decade in men's tennis, winning 33 of the 40 grand slams on offer.

Djokovic claimed 15 of those, while Nadal (13) and Federer (five) built on what they had started in the early-to-mid 2000s.

And, when they matched up in deciders, the trio of greats produced some epic finals.

The women's decade was far more varied despite Serena Williams' dominance – the American winning 12 majors since 2010 – as they too delivered some enthralling deciders.

We take a look at some of the best major finals of the decade.

 

2012 Australian Open: Novak Djokovic bt. Rafael Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5

In arguably the most gruelling grand slam final ever, Djokovic outlasted Nadal in a five-set thriller in Melbourne.

The all-time greats produced an epic battle that lasted five hours and 53 minutes – the longest slam final in history.

Nadal needed a comeback in the fourth-set tie-break just to stay alive in the decider, famously dropping to his knee in celebration after getting to a fifth.

But the Spaniard would cough up a break lead in the final set as Djokovic claimed an incredible win for his fifth grand slam crown.

2014 Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic bt. Roger Federer 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-4

A Federer-Djokovic final at the All England Club always delivers.

This one looked set to be a little more straightforward as Djokovic led two-sets-to-one and held a 5-2 advantage in the fourth.

However, Federer reeled off five straight games to force a decider.

Both players had their chances in the fifth set but Djokovic took his to clinch the title.

Federer finished with 75 winners and 29 unforced errors, while Djokovic had 68 and 27 respectively in a match he described as the "best quality grand slam final" he had played in.

 

2017 Australian Open: Roger Federer bt. Rafael Nadal 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3

This was quite the occasion as two of the best ever went head to head in a grand slam final for the first time since 2011.

Its importance was also highlighted by the fact Federer held 17 majors to Nadal's 14 heading into the match, and can be understood even more greatly at the end of 2019 now that the pair are on 20 and 19 respectively.

As expected, the pair produced in front of an adoring Melbourne crowd.

After a to-and-fro battle to begin the final, Federer came from 3-1 down in the deciding set, having taken a medical time-out after the fourth.

2017 French Open: Jelena Ostapenko bt. Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-3

A stunning run at Roland Garros was completed in fine fashion – with an incredible comeback.

The unseeded Ostapenko may have accepted her run to the final was an achievement enough after the Latvian fell a set and 3-0 down to the tournament favourite.

Ostapenko may have levelled the match, but she then found herself 3-1 behind in the decider.

But, she produced another response, her first WTA Tour title coming at the French Open.

 

2019 Australian Open: Naomi Osaka bt. Petra Kvitova 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-4

Ostapenko may have delivered a huge comeback, but Osaka's ability to keep her cool against Kvitova at Melbourne Park earlier this year was even more impressive.

The Japanese star's maiden major win had been overshadowed by Williams' outburst at Flushing Meadows just months earlier and it seemed a potential second major title had been thrown away.

Osaka took the first set and led 5-3 with three championship points in the second, only to somehow drop the set altogether.

That would be enough to break even the greatest, let alone a 21-year-old on one of the sport's grandest stages.

Instead, Osaka composed herself, closing out an amazing victory for her second major title.

2019 Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic bt. Roger Federer 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3)

A history-making decider lasted just under five hours and, once again, Federer was left to rue a missed chance against Djokovic at the All England Club.

Djokovic saved two championship points in the fifth set as the two greats went to a final-set tie-break – the first in singles at Wimbledon. 

The Serbian edged it to win a 16th grand slam title, as not even 94 winners from the Swiss superstar were enough

Federer won 14 more points, hit 40 more winners and created 13 break points to eight, but was beaten.

Novak Djokovic led the way in a decade of dominance in men's tennis but it was a very different story in the women's game, as 20 different players claimed grand slam titles.

Djokovic won all but one of his 16 majors in the previous 10 years, with Rafael Nadal adding 13 to his tally to move just one adrift of Roger Federer's record haul of 20.

Only six men were grand slam champions in the past decade; Federer on five occasions, Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray securing three apiece and Marin Cilic winning the 2014 US Open.

It has been much more difficult to predict which women will land the big prizes in the game, summed up by the fact there were four different winners in 2019.

Ash Barty and Bianca Andreescu claimed maiden major titles, while Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep won their second to prevent Serena Williams from matching Margaret Court's record total of 24.

We look back at how the leading lights have measured up in the 2010s and take a glimpse at what might unfold in the next 10 years.

 

RAFA CLOSING IN, SWEET 16 FOR DJOKOVIC

Nadal won three of the four majors in 2010 and added another two this year, further trimming Federer's advantage.

World number one Nadal only failed to win the French Open twice in the decade, while Djokovic was a six-time Australian Open champion and scooped a quintet of Wimbledon crowns.

Federer has been stuck on 20 grand slam triumphs since going back-to-back in Australia in 2018, with the most recent seven won by either Djokovic or Nadal.

Not since Wawrinka's success at Flushing Meadows in 2016 has a player other than Nadal, Djokovic or Federer won a men's grand slam singles title. 

 

SERENA WINS A DOZEN, BUT SHORT OF COURT

Williams confirmed her status as one of the all-time greats by winning a further 12 major singles titles since the turn of the decade.

The 38-year-old has remained on 23 since defeating her sister, Venus, when she was pregnant in the 2017 Australian Open final.

Williams has lost all four major finals since the birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia, including the past two against Halep and Andreescu at Wimbledon and in New York respectively.

Angelique Kerber claimed three grand slams in the 2010s, while Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Osaka won two apiece.

 

ONUS ON NEXT GEN MEN TO STEP UP

While there had been concerns over what was to come with so many legends heading towards, or already in, the twilight of their careers, exciting talent has emerged in both the men

While there were concerns over what was to come with so many legends heading towards, or already in, the twilight of their careers, exciting talent has emerged in both the men's and women's game.  

Canadian teenager Andreescu capped a breakthrough season by winning the US Open, while world number one Barty is only 23 and the likes of Halep still have plenty of time on their side.

With Federer aged 38, Nadal 33, Djokovic 32 and Murray - hoping to work his way back up the rankings after recovering from hip surgery - also in his 30s, there will be a changing of the guard in the next decade.

Stefanos Tsitsipas gave another example of his huge potential by winning the ATP Finals title, while Dominic Thiem has been beaten by Nadal in the past two French Open finals.

Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will also be hoping to come of age in the 2020s.

Rafael Nadal says rising stars Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas can push for grand slam glory as the old guard face up to the "brutal" reality they cannot go on forever.

Nadal admits it is an inevitability his tennis career is coming towards the end of its shelf life, and that the same applies to the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Between them, Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have amassed a startling 55 grand slam singles titles, with all three going beyond the previous record haul of 14 majors achieved by Pete Sampras that many expected would stand for decades.

Federer is 38, Nadal turns 34 next June and Djokovic will be 33 in May. It is no small wonder all three remain serious contenders for every grand slam, having already dominated men's tennis for over a decade.

There would be genuine surprise if the Australian Open men's singles final on February 2 does not feature at least one of the trio, given that aside from Stan Wawrinka's 2015 triumph they have shut out the opposition in Melbourne since 2006.

Yet Tsitsipas won the ATP Finals in November for the biggest win of the 21-year-old Greek's career, while Medvedev had a stellar 2019, particularly on hard courts over the summer, with Nadal having to dig deep to deny the Russian in a remarkable US Open final.

Asked about the 'NextGen' players, Nadal told AS: "It's normal that there's a buzz around them and it will get louder because we're getting older every day and they're getting better every day.

"Every year they're improving. I think that they can win the biggest tournaments, like Medvedev, Tsitsipas and [Dominic] Thiem did this year.

"I think that [Denis] Shapovalov is going to make a big step up this year and [Jannik] Sinner's trajectory is incredible.

"They're here to stay. We're still around but the cycle of life is brutal and at some point that's going to change, and sooner rather than later."

Nadal is surprised he remains at the top of the game, having ended the year as world number one for the fifth time.

He bought into talk early in his career that his hard-grafting playing style would not be conducive to a long stint in the game.

"To be honest, at this stage of my life I didn’t think I’d still be playing tennis," Nadal said.

"I was told because of my style I wouldn’t have a very long career. I believed what I was told, so I thought that by now I’d be retired and starting a family."

Rafael Nadal says it is impossible to compare his tennis rivalry with Roger Federer to the clash of the football titans between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The similarity has often been suggested, based on the rationale that Federer and Messi are aesthetically extraordinary while Nadal and Ronaldo are machine-like in their winning nature and physically immense.

Ronaldo's Juventus club-mate, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, floated the theory in October, saying the "comparison is obvious and makes me smile".

The football rivalry was never greater when Ronaldo was at Real Madrid, as it put him and his club in direct opposition to Messi at Barcelona.

Messi recently went past Ronaldo's haul of Ballon d'Or triumphs when he took his sixth award, crowning him as the world's top player for this year.

But Nadal, whose French Open and US triumphs in 2019 took him to 19 grand slam titles, one behind all-time leader Federer, scotched the idea that players in one sport can be likened to those from another.

He told Marca.com: "No comparison is possible. They are two completely different sports and Messi's characteristics are not those of Federer nor are those of Cristiano like mine. Each one is as he is."

Nadal could pass 38-year-old Federer in 2020, and Novak Djokovic is also in the race to finish with the most slams, sitting on 16 to date.

But Nadal says the grand slam record would be a by-product of his dedication rather than the result of chasing it down as a main objective.

"It's not important to me, if only I'm given this title," Nadal said. "I understand for you, the media, the journalists, you have to write about this.

"For me, it's already satisfying to form part of the history of our sport.

"I've been training and making an effort since I was eight. Being where I am at 33 is already an incredible achievement.

"We're in numbers that were unimaginable. People can already think who is the best and who isn't. For me, it's a great honour to be in this group."

A record 71million Australian Dollars in prize money will be on the line at next month's Australian Open in Melbourne.

Men's and women's singles champions will each collect 4.12m AUD following an increase of 13.6 per cent on the 2019 purse.

Players losing in the first round of the singles main draw will earn 90,000 AUD, up 20 per cent, while semi-finalists will take home 1.04m AUD – an increase of 13 per cent.

"We have long been committed to improving the pay and conditions for a deeper pool of international tennis players, in fact since AO 2007 prize money has more than tripled from 20m AUD to the 71m AUD for 2020 we are announcing today," Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Tuesday.

"This year, as we do every year, we worked with the tours to establish the weighting for prize money increases round-by-round, and we pushed to reward players competing early in the tournament in both singles and doubles. 

"We strongly believe in growing prize money at all levels of the game and we will continue to work with the playing group to create viable career paths in the sport and enable more players to make more money."

Novak Djokovic will be eyeing a record-extending eighth Australian Open crown when he returns to defend his title at Melbourne Park.

Meanwhile, Japanese star Naomi Osaka is the defending champion in the women's singles.

 

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