By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Novak Djokovic  v Rafael Nadal 
- H2H; Djokovic leads 27-25
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Episode 53 of one of tennis’ most enduring rivalries takes centre stage at the conclusion of the Australian Open.
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Novak Djokovic  v Rafael Nadal  | H2H: Djokovic leads 27-25
As the tournament worse on, young-gun challengers were met, challenged and conquered and the 2019 Australian Open concludes with the Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, go head to head once more in a Slam final.
Djokovic’s Path to the Final
- R1: Mitchell Krueger [Q] 6-3 6-2 6-2
- R2: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [WC] 6-3 7-5 6-4
- R3: Denis Shapovalov  6-3 6-4 4-6 6-0
- R4: Daniil Medvedev  6-4 6-7(5) 6-2 6-3
- QF: Kei Nishikori  6-1 4-1 RET
- SF: Lucas Pouille  6-0 6-2 6-2
For Djokovic, it is a chance to make history, as he bids to be the first man in history to win seven Australian Open titles. It will put him ahead of Roger Federer and Roy Emerson, who both have six titles.
He has had a couple of tests this tournament taken to four sets by ATP NextGen stars Shapovalov and Medvedev, but found his way to win. Yet going into his semi-final match with Pouille it was interesting to see where he was at mentally. It is probably safe to say Djokovic is completely dialled in.
Nadal’s Path to the Final
- R1: James Duckworth [WC] 6-4 6-3 7-5
- R2: Matthew Ebden 6-3 6-2 6-2
- R3: Alex de Minaur  6-1 6-2 6-4
- R4: Tomas Berdych 6-0 6-1 7-6(4)
- QF: Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-4 6-2
- SF: Stefanos Tsitsipas  6-2 6-4 6-0
Meanwhile Nadal is bidding to become the first man in the Open era, and just the third man in history, to win all four Grand Slam titles twice (Rod Laver and Emerson are the two he will equal, although some of Laver’s wins were before the start of the Open Era).
The NextGen fared no better against a more aggressive Nadal than we have seen. A tinkered serve and a desire to move in for the kill has seen the World No. 2 reach the final without dropping a set.
Nadal has unfinished business on this court after his retirement last year in the quarter-final, not to mention his history of hard-court withdrawals throughout 2018 and including Brisbane. It looks like the precautions have all paid off to lead to this moment.
Who will win the Australian Open Men’s Singles Title?
We have seen this year that Nadal has tinkered with his serve, and while he always been a aggressive baseliner, his aggression this tournament has been completely off the charts. He moves as well as he ever has and attacks his court coverage fiercely.
Over the net, Djokovic is also renowned for his all-court prowess and aggressive baseline play and his consistency from both wings together with his backhand as a huge weapon honestly sets ups up for another period of domination.
He too can cover the court extremely well, and has always had a powerful serve, but this will be the first time he goes head to head with Nadal’s changed serve. You would maybe have to give Djokovic the advantage when it comes to his flexibility – the man is made of elastic, but it counter balanced by Nadal’s bullish tenacity.
Nadal has had to make changes to deal with the physical demands on his body but still possess a feral quality to his game, and Djokovic does make his game physical too. In fact the pair can be relied upon to give us lung-burning rallies that make your legs cramp just watching them.
This has all the hall-marks of a tense five-setter if their most recent encounter at Wimbledon is anything to go by and let’s be honest a final between the top seeds should deliver no less.
Prediction: Djokovic in five sets.
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