The season’s first Grand Slam will be decided tonight as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal renew their rivalry tonight at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
The duo have met 52 times prior with Djokovic holding a slim 27-25 lead.
Both players enter the final fit and fresh. Nadal enjoyed two days off his destruction over Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Spaniard is into his first Australian Open final without losing a set.
Djokovic has dropped just two sets, but in his Friday night semifinal destroyed Lucas Pouille in less than 90 minutes.
“He has played impressively well throughout the entire tournament,” Djokovic said. “He hasn’t dropped a set. He looked as good as ever on the hard court throughout these few weeks. I haven’t played bad myself last couple matches. I think that this finals comes at the right time for both of us. I’m sure we’re going to have a blast on the court.
“We can promise one thing, and that’s knowing both of us that we’re going to give absolutely everything out on the court. 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.”
ITF TOURNAMENT NOTES
* Six-time Australian Open champion DJOKOVIC is bidding to win his 7th Australian Open title and claim sole ownership of the all-time record for most Australian men’s singles titles.
* Djokovic is also bidding to become the 8th man in history to win at least 7 titles at the same Grand Slam event. Nadal, who has won 11 titles at Roland Garros, holds the record for most titles at the same Grand Slam event.
* Djokovic is bidding to win a 3rd consecutive Grand Slam title and become the first man in history to record 3 streaks of 3 or more consecutive Grand Slam titles. Djokovic won 3 straight Grand Slam titles in 2011-12 and became the first man to hold all 4 Grand Slam titles at once since Rod Laver in 1969 when he won 4 straight major titles in 2015-16.
* Djokovic has won all 6 of the Australian Open finals he has previously contested. He has a 14-9 win-loss record Grand Slam finals overall.
* NADAL is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era – and only the 3rd man in history – to win each of the 4 Grand Slam titles twice. Roy Emerson and Rod Laver are the only players to have won each Grand Slam on 2 or more occasions. (NB While Laver completed the feat in 1969, some of the titles were won before the start of the Open Era.)
* Nadal is bidding to become just the 8th player – man or woman – to win 18 or more Grand Slam titles and equal Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in 6th place on the list for most Grand Slam titles in history.
* If Nadal wins today’s final in straight sets, he will become the first man in the Open Era to win 4 Grand Slam titles without dropping a set. He would become just the 3rd man to achieve the feat at the Australian Open after Ken Rosewall in1971 and Roger Federer in 2007. By winning all 6 of his matches here in straight sets, he has reached the final here without dropping a set for the first time – and reached a Grand Slam final without dropping a set for the 7th time.
* Nadal is bidding to avoid a 4th consecutive defeat in an Australian Open final. Of Nadal’s 7 Grand Slam final defeats 3 have come here. He has a 17-7 win-loss record in Grand Slam finals overall.
Head-to-head: Djokovic leads 27-25
A 53rd Tour-level meeting for Djokovic and Nadal – the pair hold the record for most Tour-level match-ups in the Open Era. This is the pair’s 15th Grand Slam meeting – equalling Djokovic and Federer’s record for most Grand Slam match-ups in the Open Era.
This is the 25th Tour-level final that the pair have contested, giving them sole ownership of the Open Era record for most match-ups in Tour-level finals. This is the first Tour-level final the pair have contested since 2016 Doha, which Djokovic won in straight sets.
This is the pair’s 8th meeting in a Grand Slam final which gives them sole ownership of 2nd place on the Open Era list for most match-ups in Grand Slam finals. This is their first meeting in a Grand Slam final since 2014 Roland Garros, which Nadal won in 4 sets. They have previously contested 3 finals at the US Open, 2 finals at Roland Garros, and one final both here and at Wimbledon.
This is the pair’s 2nd meeting at the Australian Open. In their only previous meeting here, in the 2012 final, they contested the longest Australian Open final on record, with Djokovic winning 57 64 62 67(5) 75 in 5 hours 53 minutes.
Nadal is bidding to end a 7-match losing streak against Djokovic on hard courts. He has not defeated Djokovic on a hard court since the final at the 2013 US Open. This is their 26th meeting on a hard court. Djokovic leads the head-to-head on hard court 18-7 – by comparison, Nadal leads the clay court head-to-head 16-7 and they are tied 2-2 on grass.
SUNDAY AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCHEDULE
Men’s Doubles Final
(12) H. Kontinen/J. Peers v (5) P. Herbert/N. Mahut
Men’s Singles Final
NOT BEFORE 7:30PM
(1) Novak Djokovic (SRB) v (2) Rafael Nadal (ESP)
WUNDERGROUND.COM SUNDAY FORECAST
Partly Cloudy. High 79F. Winds S at 10 to 20 mph.
Novak Djokovic 8/11 v Rafael Nadal 11/10
US TV SCHEDULE
ESPN will have live coverage of the men’s final at 3:30am ET.
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