Another entry in one of the most riveting rivalries in Open-era tennis is about to be written when Novak Djokovic meets Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final.
World No.1 Djokovic is looking for his third grand slam title in a row on Sunday night, one that would take him close to holding every major tournament’s trophy at the same time.
But in Nadal, he faces his toughest opponent.
The pair share an incredible on-court history, with Djokovic leading their all-time head-to-head 27-25.
Their last meeting was a semi-final at Wimbledon last year, won 10-8 by Djokovic in the fifth set — a stunning testament totheir hyper-competitiveness. And the last time they faced off in Melbourne, the Serb outlasted Nadal in the 2012 final over five glorious sets that lasted five hours and 53 minutes. Given the pair have been in dominant formthis fortnight — Nadal hasn’t dropped a set and Djokovic has lost just two — both are anticipating another match for the ages.
“He’s my biggest rival in my career. I’ve played so many matches against him, epic matches on this court,” Djokovic said.
“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 final.
“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.” Djokovic is widely seen as the greatest returner of all time, compensating for his lack ofweaponry with the game’s best counterpunching.
Nadal is the tour’s king of aggressive play, ramping up his attack this tournament with a new kick-serve.
Both raced through their semi-final matches at lightning pace. “I see a difficult one as always against a player like Novak,especially when he is playing well,” Nadal said.
“Will be a tough one. I need to be 100 per cent ready for the action. “At the same time it is a motivation for me to playagainst a player like him, in this very important place against the No.1 of the world, when he’s playing so well, too.
“I am excited about that match.”