It was one of the most memorable Grand Slams in recent history, and one that got a fitting ending with the longest major final of all time. Here are the major themes the 14 days threw up.
Golden Age of men's tennis
Not since the halcyon days of Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors has the tennis world seen so many greats playing in the same era. Two remarkable semi-finals topped off by one of the best finals of all time; nearly 14 and a half hours of exhilarating tennis - it was simply awesome. From the time Rafael Nadal stepped on to the court against Roger Federer in the first semi-final to the time when Djokovic tore off his shirt after beating Nadal in a final that ran nearly six hours long, tennis was the best it had been in decades.
And it's set to get better
Despite the exceptional quality of the last three matches, the results ran true to form. Nadal beat Federer, Murray lost to Djokovic before Nadal suffered the same fate. There is a case to be made that it was all predictable, but that would be doing Messrs Nadal, Murray and Federer a disservice.
Against the same opponent in Melbourne last year, Murray had gone down tamely in straight sets. This year, he almost beat him. Most fans scoff at the Scot's chances of winning a Grand Slam with the top three around - but there was enough evidence on display against Djokovic to suggest he has significantly cut the gap. It may be the new partnership with Ivan Lendl or merely a change in mindset - but Britain may finally get its first Grand Slam champion since the great Fred Perry in 1936 this year.
Murray wasn't the only one to take his game up a notch. Nadal may have lost his seventh straight final to Djokovic, but the manner of the defeat bode well for the world number two. For the first set and a half, and most of the fifth set, he looked the more likely to win. Through the whole of 2011, that was never the case - particularly at the Grand Slams. Both at Wimbledon and US Open, Djokovic pummelled Nadal. In Melbourne, he just about managed to squeak past. If Nadal can improve his second serve and continue to be aggressive with his backhand, he may finally lay the Serbian hoodoo to rest.
And now to Federer. The Swiss, yet again, promised much with some classy displays in the early rounds, but yet again came up short against his nemesis. Federer is too old and too successful to overhaul his game completely, but perhaps a change in strategy - attacking the Nadal backhand more, for example (like he did at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals last year) might help him overcome the biggest obstacle in the path to more Slams. His heydays are behind him, but the 16-time Grand Slam champion remains the most versatile player on tour - capable of defeating anyone, including Nadal over three sets. Five sets are a different matter though and Federer may well need some luck - Nadal being upset in the early stages - or an absolutely stunning run of form to add to his tally. Either way, it's difficult to see him finishing without at least another major trophy.
Don't forget the youngsters
Bernard Tomic and Milos Raonic continued to show why they're touted to be the next big things in men's tennis. As ESPNSTAR presenter Alan Wilkins wrote in his column on Monday, Tomic is something of a touch artist on court - slicing, guiding and coaxing the ball rather than blasting the cover off of it as most players these days are wont to. The entire breadth of his game was on display against Fernando Verdasco in the first round when he stormed back from two sets down to win. The Australian would have been disappointed with his performance against Federer, but the great man himself gave the youngster a vote of confidence after beating him in straight sets. "I had to work extremely hard and Bernard showed why he is going to be a great player in the future," said Federer. Tomic could not have hoped for better encouragement.
While Tomic's racket whispers to the balls, Raonic's racket takes a megaphone and bellows at it. The big Canadian packs some serious punch and on a good day, his serves are reminiscent of the great Pete Sampras. The loss to Lleyton Hewitt highlighted his lack of footwork - Raonic tends to take big, ungainly steps rather than the small, adjusting ones that are the hallmark of the remarkable Djokovic, the best mover on the tennis court in the world. At just 21-years of age, he has some more time on his side. If he can sort his movement out, there are enough weapons in his explosive armoury to propel him to the top of men's tennis over the next few years.
The two "ics" are the talk of tennis town, but Ryan Harrison's display against Andy Murray in the first round was eye-catching as well. Strong off both flanks, incredibly quick and a good volleyer, the 19-year-old gave Murray an almighty scare; winning the opening set before being overwhelmed by the quality of the British number one in the next three.
"He is one of the up-and-coming guys and I was expecting a tough match and that's what I got," said Murray after beating Harrison. American tennis is far from its 90s zenith, but Harrison may well set it on its way back to the top.
So, what about the ladies
Women's tennis has been in the doldrums for quite a while now, riding on the broad shoulders of the Williams' sisters for quality as well as glamour. Finally though, it seems to be on the rise, thanks to the Eastern European express. Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova have added some much needed stardust, the Belarusian following the Czech to a Grand Slam.
We've been disappointed by one-hit wonders before - all the way from Iva Majoli winning the French Open in 1997 before completely disappearing from the scene to Ana Ivanovic winning the same tournament in 2008, only to suffer a horrific slump over the next three years.
Encouragingly, Azarenka and Kvitova have been performed well over the last year, while Ivanovic and compatriot Jelena Jankovic seem to be recovering from their respective slumbers as well. Ivanovic made it to the fourth round before losing to eventual semi-finalist Petra Kvitova while Jankovic went out at the same stage to Caroline Wozniacki, but not before giving the then world number a good run for her money in the second set.
Add a rejuvenated Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters (at least for 2012) to the mix, and women's tennis looks in far better shape than it did a year ago.
Now, if only Woz and Li Na would step up
Li Na's results since her historic Paris triumph have been underwhelming. She lost a great match to Clijsters in the fourth round in Melbourne, but it continued a poor run of form in which she lost in the second round of Wimbledon, the first round of the US Open and failed to make it past the group stages of the year-ending WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul. She may have blazed a trail for Asia, but Li Na is capable of so much more.
It may sound cruel, but the same cannot be said for Caroline Wozniacki, the recently deposed world number one. The Dane is one of the most consistent and dogged performers on the tour, but those are adjectives reserved for honest tries, not world beaters.
She lacks the aggression of an Azarenka or the razor sharp strokes of a Clijsters, and too often hands over the initiative to the opponent with some passive play. When Jankovic finally located her game in the second set of their fourth round encounter, Woz simply ran out of answers. It was only by virtue of the immense lead that she had established that Wozniacki edged through 6-0 7-5. It was no surprise that she lost out to Clijsters in the quarter-finals.
Unless she adds more aggression to her game and a willingness to go for broke, she will not win a major. Not with the new brigade of champions around.
Give it up for Leander Paes. And doubles in general
How long can he keep doing it? That's the question asked every time Leander strides out on court. 13 Grand Slams (men's and mixed doubles combined) in, we're no closer to finding out the answer. Paes continued to baffle in Melbourne, romping to the men's doubles crown with new partner Radek Stepanek and reaching the final of the mixed doubles with Elena Vesnina. Even as India's younger generation struggles to break through, Paes continues to fly the flag high at 38-years-old.
On a wider note, it's a pity that doubles does not enjoy anywhere near the same popularity that singles does. It's an art form - requiring lighting quick reflexes at the net and the ability to thread the thinnest of gaps from the baseline. Played between two good teams, it can rival even the best singles match for thrills. Too bad not many feel that way.
Dislike doubles, but you still need to know how to volley
Doubles may never recapture its glory, but volleying - one of its biggest components - will be crucial even in singles, going by the evidence in Melbourne. Wozniacki suffered because of her discomfort at the net, Nadal never looked comfortable while taking the ball on the full and even Djokovic let the advantage slip at times in the final by not following his deep groundstrokes to the net.
Serve and volley has virtually become extinct, but better retrieving abilities across the game means that the ability to close out a point by coming in will be well rewarded in the future.
Roger Federer and Andy Murray look the most at ease up front. Murray's coach Lendl was a sworn baseliner though, so he might not look too kindly on his charge rushing forward at every opportunity. Of the trio of youngsters mentioned here, Harrison seems to have the edge of the other two - a factor that may well contribute to a rapid rise.