NOVAK Djokovic overcame injury to become Serbia's first Grand Slam singles champion, claiming the Australian Open men's crown with a four-set win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Melbourne Park. His victory in three hours six minutes ends a run of 11 straight majors won by Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.
The third seed withstood an early barrage from Tsonga to win 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-2). Both Djokovic and Tsonga went into the final confident after seeing off top seeds Federer and Nadal in the semi-finals, but the Serb had the added experience of having played in a Grand Slam final at last year's US Open.
Tsonga was playing in his first final of any sort at senior level but had demolished Nadal on Friday and began the stronger. After missing two break points in game four he took the opening set with a stunning forehand winner followed by a superb lob in game 10.
By now, the crowd and the momentum were well and truly with the man from Le Mans and all Djokovic could do was hang on. But the world number three did just that before turning the match on its head with a break in game seven, thanks to a fizzing backhand winner down the line.
It seemed as though the third set would prove crucial and again it was Djokovic who took the initiative. He sealed an early break in game three and went on to take the set at the seventh opportunity in an epic ninth game. The balance of power appeared to shift yet again in the fourth set, particularly when Djokovic required treatment on his thigh at 3-2 ahead, but his form did not waver. It came down to the tie-break and Djokovic seized the moment, dominating throughout and serving out coolly for the title from 5-2.
"You feel the expectations and pressure, so I'm very happy with the way I dealt with the pressure," said Djokovic afterwards.
"Coming on against a player with nothing to lose -- he was going for the shots and he was very dangerous, especially in the first set. I was pretty nervous."
In the women's final, Maria Sharapova won the third Grand Slam title of her career with a straight-sets win over Serbia's Ana Ivanovic. The Russian, 20, won 7-5 6-3 to add the Australian crown to victories at Wimbledon in 2004 and the 2006 US Open. And the victory also made up for a "depressing" thrashing by Serena Williams in last year's final.
Sharapova slipped down the rankings last year as she struggled with a serious shoulder injury. But from the start of the tournament in Melbourne it was clear that her health problems were behind her as she swept through a draw that included Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic.
The Russian revealed that she had received a text message from legend Billie Jean King before the match, saying: "Champions take chances, and pressure is a privilege."
Sharapova, who was 13 when she first met King, said: "From that point on, she's just always been really supportive. After the match, she received a second text from King that read: "Congratulations. You did great." Sharapova is already looking ahead with confidence to adding to her haul of major titles.
After the pair shared early breaks of serve, Sharapova moved ahead again in game 11 and served out the first set. And two breaks in the second set were enough to give Sharapova a convincing victory in one hour 31 minutes.
On a baking hot Australia Day, with temperatures touching 34C, people in the crowd were fanning themselves and the players looked for shade wherever they could find it.
Ivanovic, who had beaten Sharapova on her way to a first Grand Slam final at last year's French Open, had enjoyed a breakthrough win over Venus Williams in the last eight.
It was Sharapova who started as the favourite and she began the stronger, breaking in game six as Ivanovic double-faulted in a nervous game. The Russian, who had not dropped a set on her way to the final, looked poised to extend that record until a surprising drop in her level from 4-2 ahead.
Ivanovic reeled off three straight games as Sharapova struggled both on serve and with her ground strokes, and the Serbian was close to a second break at 0-30 up in game 10. But Sharapova overcame her brief wobble to hold on before Ivanovic then suffered a slump, handing her opponent a second break of serve with a poor game.
This time Sharapova was not to be denied, serving out to love for the set and almost taking control at the start of the second, just failing to convert two break points. She was now holding her own service games with ease, heaping the pressure on Ivanovic who finally cracked in game seven with a double fault and a forehand error.
Sharapova showed absolutely no sign of nerves as she held for 5-3 and raced to 0-40 and three championship points on the Ivanovic serve.
The first two chances went begging but Sharapova converted the third when she forced an error, before dropping to her knees in triumph and then tearfully racing to see her father, Yuri, and supporters in the stands.
In mixed doubles, fifth seeds Sun Tiantian of China and Serbia's Nenad Zimonjic beat India's Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza to win the Australian Open title. Sun and Zimonjic came through 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena to take the title for the first time.
Zimonjic had previously won the trophy with Elena Bovina in 2004, and also won the French Open mixed doubles title with Katarina Srebotnik in 2006.
Israel's Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram won their first Grand Slam title with victory over Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in the men's doubles final. Erlich and Ram beat the French pairing 7-5 7-6 (7-4) to become the first Israeli pair to win a Grand Slam event.
The match was interrupted by rain with Erlich and Ram leading 4-2 but they were untroubled by the 30-minute delay. It was Elrich and Ram's 11th career title together and they are unbeaten in Davis Cup doubles since March 2005.
Unseeded Ukrainian sisters Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko took the women's doubles title with a three-set win over Shahar Peer and Victoria Azarenka. The Kharkov- based duo hit back to defeat Israel's Peer and Azarenka of Belarus, the 12th seeds, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.
It was the first time the sisters had won a doubles title in their 38th tournament playing together. Their previous best was reaching three semi-finals in WTA Tour events.
They had the chance to serve for the match at 5-2 but were broken before sealing victory on their first match point at 5-4 when Azarenka hit a backhand return into the net.
As a final point, Peter Norfolk battled to a second quad singles title at the Australian Wheelchair Tennis Open in Melbourne with a 6-2 6-3 win over David Wagner. The Briton was broken by Wagner in a tense opening game but broke back and again at 4-1 on his way to the set.
The pair swapped breaks in the second as Norfolk struggled with his serve but he made the decisive break and served out on his first match point to win.
Norfolk adds the Australian title to the US Open crown he won in September.
The 47-year-old, who had just returned from four months out with a shoulder injury, had defeated American Wagner again to claim the inaugural title at Flushing Meadows.
The singles victory helped Norfolk gain revenge for his doubles defeat to Wagner on Friday.
Wagner and his American partner Nick Taylor beat Norfolk and Canada's Sarah Hunter in a deciding championship tie-break. The American players, who have only lost once as a doubles partnership since January 2004, triumphed 5-7 6-0 10-3