Djokovic’s aforementioned haul of majors for the decade has, for perspective, only ever been matched in the men’s game by Federer’s 15 in the 2000s, so the Serbian tops the list, with a very honourable mention for Nadal, who won 13, including eight in Paris. Not only did Djokovic claim six Australian Opens, five Wimbledons, three US Opens and a French, as well as playing in Serbia’s dramatic first Davis Cup crown, he became the first man since Rod Laver to hold all the major titles at once.
Williams brought up the most major titles of any man or woman in the open era with her 12 in the decade, including a second career “Serena slam”, bringing her equal with Margaret Court’s 23 wins. She did it all by the time of the Australian Open in 2017, the year she gave birth to her first child and took time out of the sport, and after being runner-up in her past four grand slam finals she enters the 2020s still level with Court.
In terms of domination, it’s also hard to go past Dylan Alcott, the Australian who has won all but one of his 10 wheelchair men’s singles finals at the grand slams and took home two gold medals from the Rio Paralympics.
For the first time since the 19th century – before the Australian Open even existed – the decade featured no Australian men’s major winners, or any who made finals or semi-finals for that matter.
There was much promised at Wimbledon in 2011 when teenager Bernard Tomic reached the quarter-finals and then in 2014 when Kyrgios, at 19, made the last eight there and at Melbourne Park the next January, but they were false dawns. Kyrgios, who got as high as No.13 in the world, proved he could beat anyone at his best – he has a 2-0 record against Djokovic and is 3-4 against Nadal, for instance – but he is yet to truly fulfil his talent. Tomic was also a top-20 player midway through the decade, but slid down the rankings in a blaze of controversy.
There were also no Davis Cup titles for Australia in a decade for the first time since the Second World War, although they reached the semi-finals in 2015 and 2017.
THE BOLTS FROM THE BLUE
John Millman’s stunning upset of Federer in the fourth round of the US Open last year went straight into the hall of fame for Australian boilovers at grand slams.
There was plenty of unpredictability in the women’s majors with 18 different winners for the decade, no more out of the box than unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko’s triumph at the French Open in 2017 and teenager Bianca Andreescu’s rise to become Canada’s first grand slam winner at this year’s US Open.
Also out of nowhere came unseeded Monica Puig’s victory in the women’s singles at the Rio Olympics, becoming the first female Puerto Rican gold medalist in Games history.
THE CRYSTAL BALL
The Davis Cup, having been transformed from its traditional format in this decade, will be gone by the end of the next, dying a sad death brought about by fading relevance and player dissatisfaction, as well as the wild popularity of the ATP Cup in Australia. Kyrgios, having won a pair of ATP Cup titles with Alex de Minaur, will be named Australia’s new captain to start the 2030s, having just retired at age 34.
The same trio of players who occupied the top three positions in the men’s rankings to close out 2009 and 2019 won’t be around in 2029, although they’re so good they probably could be. Instead, de Minaur will be a fixture in the top 10 alongside a seasoned Alex Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov.
Barty, meanwhile, will end the decade needing one more major to draw level with her idol, Evonne Goolagong, on seven, having, during the 2020s, become Australia’s most successful player of recent times.
Chris Barrett is Sports Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.