Novak Djokovic v Lucas Pouille In Australian Open SF #2, Who’s The Pick?
by Sean Randall | January 24th, 2019, 7:02 pm

So one finalist is set for the Australian Open title Sunday, his name is “Ruthless Rafa”, because that’s what Rafael Nadal has become. More on that below. But first, today or tonight, we’ll determine who’ll face Nadal on Sunday and it’s between Novak Djokovic and Lucas Pouille.

Let’s get to it.

Novak Djokovic v Lucas Pouille
I’ll just start out by saying I don’t give Pouille much of a chance here. He’s had a decent draw up to this point. Milos Raonic can be tough, also Borna Coric (mini Djokovic?) who was my pick to make to the semifinals, but he’s not had a “wow” win like a Stefanos Tsitsipas or Danielle Collins or last year Hyeon Chung have had.

They are wins over good players, just nothing extraordinary that would signal he pull off the upset today.

Obviously with Pouille, the difference has been new coach Amelie Mauresmo. The former champion has turned someone who was 0-5 in Melbourne into someone who has gone 5-0 this week. He’s hitting his backhand better, returning serve well, cutting down on errors and returning like a monster. The kid does have a lot of game it’s just a question of harnessing it. And Mauresmo has done that so far.

But in this match against Djokovic, which is surprisingly their first meeting – Djokovic is just better in every department and he’s more experienced and it’s best-of-5. So unless Novak has an off day, I just don’t see any place where Pouille can make inroads.

And subtly, Novak agrees.

“With the quality of the tennis that he possesses, he deserves to be definitely at the top 15, maybe top 10 of the world. He’s got that quality and potential, no question about it,” Djokovic said of Pouille.

He’s a “quality” player. He might be a Top 10 guy. That’s all code for he’s not elite, doesn’t have any major weapons and is not anyone who is going to win multiple Slams. And he’s right.

This should be a good, comfortable match-up for Novak. Pouille does have an excellent backhand, but he shouldn’t be able to blast Novak off the court.

So like I said, unless Novak hits the skids, this should be a fairly straightforward match. I think Pouille will make it fun – he’s a good shotmaker, he did beat Nadal in a US Open thriller a few years ago – but too much Djokovic tonight.
The Pick: Djokovic in 3

Now, back to yesterday. The bigger story.

I thought Stefanos Tsitsipas would give Rafa a run and boy was I wrong. That was an evisceration.

The Greek had zero read on Rafa’s serve and all but threw in the towel dropping the last nine games of the match.

Bad night for Stefanos, great night for Rafa. That’s what happens sometimes.

As for Rafa, he’s looking mighty scary with that new serve. And the more free points he gets with it, the more dominant he gets. And…And…And… Perhaps the longer he can stay in the game. Think about that: shorter points = less wear and tear = longer career.

So I really like the direction Rafa’s heading and the way he’s playing and hitting that serve. That 18th Slam and second career Slam is looking well within reach now, even if Novak is across the net on Sunday.

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25 Comments for Novak Djokovic v Lucas Pouille In Australian Open SF #2, Who’s The Pick?

Andy Mira Says:

1st of all,gotta say this Sean….Very agree with everythings u wrote…especially bout Rafa!….LOVED IT!!Hahahaha….Thank u so much Sean for the nice words!Really appreciate it!…

Now…like Sean,i also will go with Novak in 3….Sure,Pouille is a good player…but,i just don’t think he can match Novak’s mental toughness for 2,3 or 4 hrs…going toe to toe with him without dropping his focus or his high level of tennis for long…If he can do that…then he has a chance…but sorry,i doubt it….So…Nole in 3…insyaallah…

chrisford1 Says:

I hope Novak has Team Djoker looking carefully at what Rafa is doing and seeing what new patterns, and Rafa is a creature of habit, can be disrupted or anticipated. I wish Djoko had more than 1 day off because there will (there better …..) be some talk of strategy and tactics, followed by time on court practicing them. One thing that has worked in the past when Rafa gets aggressive is to lob just over Rafas head. Djokovic is a superb lobber. It wears Rafa out and makes him hesitant to come forward.

With Lucas, I say 4 sets because Djokovic hasn’t played him before.

nits Says:

If it’s the usual Djokovic 3 sets
If it’s a Djokovic with a bad day
3 sets with a tie break

FedExpress Says:

Come on Nole

Van Persie Says:

Oh, man, I could not work from home today and watching the scores.
See Nole tries to make a statement. Hope he’s not trying to hard. He has to peak on Sunday, if that’s the case.

Anto Says:

@VP he aint trying at all. Just being solid and clinical. Very impressive start from Novak to bagel Lucas

FedExpress Says:

Nole in complete control.

Will be a big match on Sunday.

Milos Says:

Is it me or it is a bit quiet here in the comments section for a grand slam?

FedExpress Says:

6-0 6-2

Nole on fire. He wants the crown back.

Van Persie Says:


Feel a bit better today? :)

Ok, we will have a match on Sunday, that’s for sure!

FedExpress Says:

Nole should put away Nadal in max 4 sets.

Anto Says:

Wow that was impressive performance from Djokovic. Now for the final we all have been waiting for. Nole is definitely the favourite but not by a large margin may be 60 – 40.

Giles Says:

Pouille played cr@p hence making joker look brilliant. Pfffft.

Wog Boy Says:


Slightly better:)

chrisford1 Says:

I spotted Pouille a set. Looks foolish now as Novak just destroyed Lucas like Nadal destroyed Tsitsipas. I feel better about Novak’s chances against Nadal after seeing how fit and overpowering Novak was today. Rafa has been more dominant than Novak so far this Slam, but the only thing that really matters is both seem to be ready and at full capability for Sunday. Both want it bad.

Van Persie Says:

Chances are, 50-50, my pov, ok maybe 51 Nole- 49 Rafa ;)

See you on Sunday, after the match!

Nole, idemoooo!

j-kath Says:

For Pouille to get to the semis was somewhat surprising in the first place – he’s an OK player but will never be gold standard.
The match on Sunday will be like an ancient Roman amphi-theatre…normally I’d say Novak would win, but Rafa has amazingly re-invented himself way beyond clay successes -hence, it’s 50-50 – whoever wins will have to earn it the hard way.

Andy Mira Says:

Heh heh….At least Pouille ‘tried’ his best to play against Novak..unlike Kei who…ermm…urgh!!…

Anyway…Final!here we comes!!…Can’t wait to see a real warrior playing a real match…

C’mon!Bring it on guys!….It’s going to be an awesome match!!

Michael Says:

No doubt Rafa is playing incredible tennis and his new service action is a revelation in itself which is unreadable and lethal. He has had a very easy path to the finals where he has ruthlessly mangled his opponents who happen to be some of the best players; but strangely looking so helpless and despaired on court. But, yet with Novak at the other side of the net and suddenly you find Rafa vulnerable. Their H2H in hard court speaks for itself where Novak leads by a lop sided 19-7 and more specially, he is yet to lose an Australian open final. Their recent Wimbledon outing was an epic and so was their earlier clash at the Australian open which lasted almost a phenomenal six hours with Novak prevailing. All said and done, this is a mouth watering final and a marquee contest exactly the one fans are wistful after a lukewarm Australian open which is yet to witness many gruelling contests. If Rafa is to win,he should win it in four. On the other hand. If it goes the distance as it likely will, Novak will have the big edge. My gut sense tells me that Novak will edge out Rafa in a five setter. With the way, the two are playing now, it should be nothing less.

All Out Says:

Atleast Tsitsipas made it a little interesting. He was not playing bad per se. Nadal was not allowing him to play better. But today, Lucas Pouille looked like he brought a pillow to a hammer fight. His groundstrokes were error strewn and very ineffective against Nole who didnt require anything special. And Lucas had an off day with the serve. That second serve was just fodder for easy points for Nole.

Sunday will be interesting. Hope its high quality but not as long as 2012. Vamos!!

Giles Says:
Does anyone think these guys were easy opponents for Rafa? NOT!

Ronn Says:

Giles, actually yes they were.

Duckworth #237
Ebden #48
Minaur #29
Berdych #57
Tiafoe #39
Tsitsipas #15

Telperion Says:

It comforts me to see Nole play like this, but Rafa’s level is simply impressive. It will be a tough call on the final, for sure. I’d love to see Nole win, but honestly I don’t know what to expect except for a terrific match.

funches Says:

Djokovic wins in four sets, maybe straight sets.

Even with Nadal’s improved serve. Djokovic will return his serve better than Nadal returns his, and that’s the difference in their hard court matches. Djokovic starts out ahead in the majority of the points, and they are even from there.

Daniel Says:

Indeed Funches, Djoko has won the last 7 encounters on HC. The last time he lost to Nadal on a HC was the biggest there is: USO 2013!

All favors him, but also Nadal produces his best in Slams hence the 2 USO wins versus Novak. This is really close to call but I still go with Djoko

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