World No. 1 Novak Djokovic successfully set up what should be a tremendous final Sunday night at the Australian Open after pounding Lucas Pouille 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals today. It was a night of near-perfect tennis for Djokovic.
“Obviously today was a perfect match for me from the first to the last point,” said Djokovic who improves to 34-0 as the top seed at the event. “I executed everything that I intended to and even more than I have expected.”
Djokovic broke the Frenchman’s in his very first service game and that all but ended the drama, if there even was any. Pouille, who was playing in his first Slam semifinal, simply had no answer to the onslaught that came from Djokovic’s racquet.
That match lasted just 83 minutes. That’s for a best-of-5 on hard court in a Grand Slam semifinal! Djokovic finished losing just eight points total on serve while hitting 24 winners to just five unforced errors.
“Tough one for Lucas, but he had a great tournament,” Djokovic added. “He definitely has the quality to be a top-10 player. It was his first semifinal, and the occasion is different, there’s more weight in the match. He’s going to get more of these types of matches in the late stages of Grand Slams.”
It was the first meeting between the two players, and it took Pouille seven games to finally get a win on the scoreboard.
“I was trying to find a solution, but couldn’t find any,” the 24-year-old Pouille said. “From the beginning, yeah, I think the first mistake came after maybe one set, I don’t know.
“If I wanted to get closer or arrive at the end of one set 4-All, I had to serve 90% or 100% first serve. Even this I was not sure to even get close to it.”
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga remains the last Frenchman to make a Slam final, and that came back at the 2008 Australian Open. But Djokovic presents a different problem than Nadal would, according to Pouille who beat the Spaniard at the US Open in 2016.
“Novak is playing like really, really fast, really low,” Pouille said. “He’s close to the baseline. Always he has good placement in any situation. Even in defense, he’s going to put the ball really deep maybe 10, 20 centimeters from the baseline. You will always have a tough shot to make. That’s kind of difficult.”
After Rafael Nadal’s statement win last night over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Djokovic made his own.
“We can promise one thing, and that’s knowing both of us that we’re going to give absolutely everything out on the court,” Djokovic said. “I think people will enjoy it. I will, of course, try to play as well as I have so far. Of course, playing Rafa requires a different approach tactically. I’m sure it’s the same from his side towards me.
“He’s my biggest rival in my career. I’ve played so many matches against him, epic matches on this court. Of course, the one that stands out was the finals of six hours almost in 2012. Hopefully we don’t go that long this time. But I’m sure we’re going to have a good finals.”
Djokovic leads Nadal 27-25 including an epic 5 hour, 53 minute win in the 2012 final.
“Those kind of encounters have also made me the player I am today, without a doubt,” said Djokovic who has won his last seven over Nadal on hard courts. “These are the kind of matches that you live for, finals of slams, playing the greatest rivals at their best. What more can you ask for? This is where you want to be.”
Djokovic has now won 20 straight matches in Grand Slam play. He’s also won his last 10 Slam semifinals and at the Australian Open once he reaches the last 4, he’s now 13-0.
What a Sunday it should be,
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