By Ros Satar, in Melbourne

  • We crunch the numbers between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal as they bid to win the Australian Open Men’s singles title
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – The conclusion of the 2019 Australian Open ends with the top two seeds in the men’s draw, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal both going head to head for a piece of history.

 

Head to Head

Novak Djokovic [1] Rafael Nadal [2]
27 25

 

This is one hell of a rivalry, and it just keeps on going. Novak Djokovic got the better of Rafael Nadal in their last Slam encounter in a five-set thriller at Wimbledon, and by all indications we are set for a long fight for Sunday’s title.

Advantage: Djokovic

 

Titles History

Djokovic Nadal
Titles (2019) 72 (0) 80 (0)
Slams 14 17

 

Both men are on the chase. A win for Djokovic puts him closer to overtaking Nadal’s 17 Slams, while Nadal in this new improved version, with some longevity and scheduling now really puts himself in the frame to overtaking Roger Federer before he’s done.

Advantage: Nadal

 

Year to Date/Career W/L Record

Djokovic Nadal
All surfaces W/L 9-1 / 845-176 6-0 / 924-189
Hard-court 9-1 / 548-102 6-0 / 441-128

 

While Nadal constantly dispels the rumour that he is only a clay-court specialist and that he enjoys playing on hard courts too, recent steps to prolong his career and not risk further damage to a battered body has meant very little hard court play in 2018.

Djokovic is about to rule supreme and the hard courts tend to be his playground, and it shows in his overall record.

Advantage: Djokovic

 

Match Stats 2019 (Source: Tennis Abstract)

Djokovic Nadal
Tie-Breaks 0-2 1-0
Deciding sets  (Best of Five) 2-1 (0) 0 (0)

 

Tie-breaks

So far Djokovic has not been the one in charge if he is pushed to a tie-break, while Nadal has yet to lose.

Deciding Sets

While Djokovic has been tested a couple of times this tournament over four sets, in his season opener in Doha he was taken the distance in every match – that could be put down to being a little rusty, but he certainly has had more court time this year.

Advantage: Nadal

 

Tournament

Serve/Return

Djokovic only slightly edges Nadal in terms of his second serve points one and returns in play but this tweaked service action from Nadal puts him just slightly ahead. But even allowing for a shortened quarter-final to negate some of his time spent on court, Djokovic lags in terms of winners, and is ahead in unforced errors, showing Nadal to have been the more efficient.

Advantage: Nadal

 

What they had to say

There will definitely be a change this time when they meet and Nadal’s changes to his game in 2019 has not gone unnoticed by Djokovic.

“I’m going to get out there and obviously try to dictate the play. But it’s easier said than done against Nadal. Just depends how we both start. Throughout the match, I guess you’re going to have to be present and get a feel of how it evolves. Sometimes it will require to be a little bit more patience with more construction of the point, sometimes maybe to attack more.

“I mean, he has improved his serve. I see he has a slightly different service motion that has worked very well. With everything he possesses, all the qualities in his game, adding to that also a lot of free points on the serve makes him much tougher to play against.”

 

Nadal predictably continues to play down his opposition, perhaps this time from a position of more confidence going into this final.

“I think I found solutions against Novak during all my career, and he found solutions against me. Is always about moments. In his best moments, he’s so difficult to beat. In my best moments, I have been a tough opponent, too. Depends on the surfaces, too.

“I see a difficult one, as always, against a player like Novak, especially when he was playing well. Will be a tough one. I need to be 100% ready for the action. At the same time it is a motivation for me to play against a player like him in this very important place against the No. 1 of the world when he’s playing so well, too.”

 

Who will win the Australian Open 2019 Men’s Singles Title?

 

The Australian Open 2019 Men’a Singles final will be played on Sunday at 7:30pm (8:30am GMT).

 

How to Watch/Follow the Australian Open

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