January 25, 2019
Novak Djokovic couldn’t have put it any better after his immaculate destruction of Lucas Pouille in three rather one-sided sets.
The focus quickly turned to the final against Rafael Nadal, the man Novak regards as his greatest rival.
This is of course a reenactment of last year’s thrilling Wimbledon semi-final, quite possibly the highlight of the tournament.
Djokovic v Nadal is the right final for Melbourne 2019. A battle between the best of the best right now.
Novak started the tournament as heavy favourite. But he will have to raise his level even higher to match Rafa, who has been fearsome on his march into the showpiece.
And the good news is that Djokovic feels he will meet the challenge and create something special with Nadal once more.
Novak explained: ‘These are the kind of matches that you live for, finals of Slams, playing your greatest rivals at their best.
‘What more can you ask for? This is where you want to be.
‘Rafa is my biggest rival in my career. I’ve played so many matches against him, epic matches on this court.’
The one in 2012 lasted five hours and fifty-three minutes with Djokovic winning 7-5 in the fifth.
Novak came out on top at Wimbledon last year too.
But many believe this Rafael Nadal is even stronger than the one we saw six months ago. Whereas Djokovic has looked beatable in recent months.
But we can be confident that the Serb will raise his game when it matters, to leave the outcome on a knife-edge.
Djokovic, with his flexibility and precision. Nadal, with his power and increasing versatility.
Novak summed it up perfectly when he said: ‘We can promise one thing. Both of us will give absolutely everything out on the court. I think people will enjoy it.’
So much is at stake. Another precious Grand Slam title, of course. But Nadal is seeking to become the first man to win every Slam twice.
Meanwhile Djokovic hopes to become the first man to win the Australian Open seven times.
It is so hard to call. Those of us who started the tournament favouring Djokovic might now be tempted to suspect that even Novak will find it tough to tame Nadal in this kind of form.
The beauty of the perfect balance between two all-time greats is that we don’t have to predict a winner, though. Novak has practically promised us another epic. That’s all that matters.
The two best players on the planet right now are about to embark on gladiatorial battle once more.
And we can’t wait!