Rafole 53 is upon us with the pair taking to the court on Sunday, hoping to further extend their legacies. Novak Djokovic seeks a record seventh Australian Open title and three slams in a row while Rafael Nadal will become a multiple time winner of all four slams with a victory. The head to head currently stands in 27-25 with their last meeting the epic at Wimbledon last year, which Djokovic won 10-8 in a decider. Check out the Djokovic vs Nadal H2H stats.
Both men had a stress-free semi final, outclassing their far less experienced opponents. Djokovic dropped four games in a crushing victory over Lucas Pouille 6-0 6-2 6-2, making it just six games lost in the last four and a half sets of tennis from the Serbian. That follows two more trickier matchups against the more youthful opponents of Daniil Medvedev and Denis Shapovalov. “Considering the occasion and circumstances and playing semifinals here, this is definitely one of the best matches I’ve played on Rod Laver Arena in my career.” he said after the defeat of Pouille.
Nadal has yet to drop a set this fortnight, with classing telling in his matchups with three of the best young players on the tour. Alex de Minaur and Frances Tiafoe were dispatched of earlier in the draw before his win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi finals. The Greek had beaten Roger Federer earlier in the tournament but could not pick up another dramatic win as Nadal went on to win 6-2 6-4 6-0. “I have been playing well during the whole event. Every match more or less I think I did a lot of things well. Tonight was another one.” Nadal said afterwards.
The serve for Nadal has been impressive and he credited that for his ability to take control of points even earlier than usual, even if it’s not to the speed of many of the other top players. “Today I’m serving better. That’s why I’m able to create more winners on the first ball. That’s the only reason. For the rest of the things, I always tried to be aggressive.”
While Nadal and Federer’s rivalry is the one that defines this era of tennis, you could easily argue that Nadal and Djokovic have provided far more drama in the 52 matches played so far. Amongst them was the Australian Open final back in 2012 that the Serbian won 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7(5) 7-5. It lasted nearly 6 hours, a feat that has not been matched by the pair since. It would be his only slam of 2012 but it is one that lives long in the memory of many a tennis fan.
“Without a doubt, probably the most intense tennis player that I have witnessed and played against. It makes you be alert, so to say, from the very first point. That’s why I think the quality of tennis is 100% right away.” Djokovic said on Nadal. “I think physically definitely you need to be fit, ready to battle, ready to run for hours.”
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in five sets