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Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic: Australian Open final preview

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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will meet for the 53rd time in their career to contest the 2019 Australian Open final on Sunday.

Two of the greatest figures in the game of tennis share a staggering 152 singles titles between them (Nadal 80, Djokovic 72) which includes 31 Grand Slam titles (Nadal 17, Djokovic 14).

In terms of their head-to-head record, the Serbian champion shades it 27-25 and is 20/27 with GIVEMEBET to be victorious in Sunday’s final.

Their last clash was symptomatic of the closeness of their rivalry, with Djokovic winning a captivating  semi-final at Wimbledon last year, holding on 10-8 in the fifth set.

With so little separating the duo, the stage is set for a wonderful spectacle.

Routes to the Final

Novak Djokovic

Sets Won: 18
Lost: 2

Total Time on court: 11 hours 59 minutes

Round 1 def Mitchell Krueger 6-3, 6-2, 6-3

Round 2 def. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga 6-3, 7-5, 6-4

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN

Round 3 def. Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0

Round 4 def. Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3

Quarter-Final def. Kei Nishikori 6-1, 4-1(ret)

Semi-Final def. Lucas Pouille 6-0, 6-2, 6-2

Rafael Nadal

Sets Won: 18
Lost: 0

Total Time on court: 12 hours 11 minutes

2019 Australian Open - Day 11

Round 1 def. James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5

Round 2 def. Matthew Ebden 6-3, 6-2, 6-2

Round 3 def. Alex De Minaur 6-1, 6-2, 6-4

Round 4 def. Tomas Berdych 6-1, 6-0, 7-6(4)

Quarter-Final def. Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2

Semi-Final def. Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0

Past Meetings in Grand Slams

Men's Final Preview - 2019 Australian Open

Nadal holds the edge in Grand Slam meetings (9-5) and GS finals (4-3).

For two pre-eminent figures of the men's game, it has been a fair while since they last met in a Grand Slam final (French Open, 2014) which the Spaniard won in four sets.

Nadal won their first five meetings in Grand Slams, which included the 2010 US Open final (their first Grand Slam decider).

Djokovic struck a rich vein of form in the early part of this decade, and that showed when he defeated the Spaniard in three consecutive finals (Wimbledon & U.S Open 2011/Australian Open 2012).

Nadal responded in kind, not allowing a complete changing of the guard to take place on his watch.

TENNIS-GBR-WIMBLEDON

Something to keep in mind, however, is that half of their overall Grand Slam meetings have come on the Spaniard's favourite surface - that being clay.

The 32 year-old holds an imposing 6-1 record at the French Open.

In terms of other Grand Slams, it is much closer.

Djokovic holds the edge on the grass at Wimbledon (2-1), while the Spaniard leads at the US Open by the same margin.

Previous Australian Open Meeting

The duo have only met once at the Australian Open, and that was back in 2012, but it ranks as one of the most memorable occasions in the history of the sport.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia (R) celebrates

To this day it is the longest final in Grand Slam history, coming in at just seven minutes short of the six-hour mark. Another five set thriller could be ahead with GIVEMEBET offering 11/5 there will be over 4.5 sets.

It was a game of tremendous tension and twists and turns, with Djokovic responding from losing the first set 5-7 to take the next two 6-4, 6-2.

The fourth set would comfortably be described as a classic, lasting nearly 90 minutes with Nadal winning it in a tiebreak.

The Spaniard raced to a 4-2 lead in the deciding set, but Djokovic, who had overcome a five-hour semi-final with Andy Murray, found something deep inside to break back, and then broke Nadal's serve again at 5-5 before serving it out to clinch his third Australian Open title.

Where the game will be won/lost

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN

Normally when you come into a Grand Slam final, you either encounter a player who has reached the end of the road in a physical sense, or is a first timer completely overawed by the situation.

However, for this contest, we have two legendary figures who are at the peak of their powers having expanded as little energy as possible.

They will be both fully prepared to have another five or six hour epic if need be.

Nadal will look to dictate terms from the back of the court with his forehand being one of his most punishing and prized weapons. You know every time you go into battle with the Spaniard, it is going to be a war of attrition.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner is not one of those players that defeats themselves.

2019 Australian Open - Day 12

You have to treat every point on their merits, and winning a set against the Spaniard takes a monumental effort in a physical sense.

While Nadal uses his power to his great benefit, Djokovic has a deal of grace and guile about his game.

The 14-time Grand Slam winners' agility and court speed is superb for someone who stands at 6 feet 2 in the old scale. 

The ability of Djokovic to scamper all over the court and make his opponent engage in a rally is a first-class asset, which can lead to a number of unforced errors on the other side of the net.

Another main strength of Djokovic is that he is one of the best returners in the game. 

Men's Final Preview - 2019 Australian Open

The Serbian is able to assess where the opponent is going to go with their serve and is very quick to jump all over it if he notices any weaknesses.

If there is a slight flaw in the make-up of Djokovic, it is that he has the tendency to lose focus occasionally.

While it is much less of an issue than in his younger days, it again came to the fore in his third round clash with Denis Shapovalov, where he complained about the floodlights being on.

While it was a valid complaint, especially as it was in the middle of the day, it affected Djokovic to the extent that he lost the third set.

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN

A loss of concentration like that against a much more experienced and considerably better opponent in Nadal could make all the difference.

Prediction

It is terrific to have the best two players in the world at this present time win their way to the final of one of the showcase events on the tennis calendar.

Both men have had plenty of magical moments in the sport, however, they have also had a fair share of real lows, times where they wondered if they would reach the pinnacle again.

It is to their great credit where they have reassessed their game, and put their body through all the gruelling training sessions in their quest to reach the top again.

Rafael Nadal of Spain holds the trophy a

With both men now on the other side of 30, and having looked their tennis mortality squarely in the eye more than once, they know the end is much closer to the beginning.

Both Djokovic and Nadal have thrilled their fans over the two weeks with exquisite tennis.

While Djokovic knows how to win on Rod Laver Arena, having done so six times before, Nadal has looked like a man on a mission across the Grand Slam, not dissimilar to his great rival Roger Federer in years past.

The Spaniard is desperate to put past disappointments at the Australian Open well and truly behind him and start the new year on the ultimate high.

It is for that reason that Nadal will run out victorious in a very tight four-set contest.

Topics:
Australian Open
Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic
Tennis

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