27 Jan 2019

Djokovic-Nadal showdown set for Melbourne Park

11:45 am on 27 January 2019

It's the greatest rivalry in 50 years of professional tennis and Novak Djokovic is tipping another showstopper when he takes on Rafael Nadal in an Australian Open final for the ages on Sunday night.

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal.


The world's top two players will stage the 53rd instalment of an epic career series stretching 13 years with history firmly on the line yet again at Melbourne Park.

No two men have met more at the majors and rarely has there been more at stake as Djokovic strives to move clear of Roger Federer and Roy Emerson with a record seventh Open crown and Nadal bids to join Emerson and Rod Laver as only the third player ever to win all four slams at least twice.

Despite having clashed 14 times previously at the slams, and nine times in finals, Djokovic and Nadal haven't stoushed at the pointy end of a major in almost five years.

"These are the kind of matches that you live for - finals of slams, playing the greatest rivals at their best. What more can you ask for? This is where you want to be," Djokovic said after destroying Lucas Pouille 6-0 6-2 6-2 in Friday night's semi-final mismatch.

"Nadal has historically throughout my life and career been the greatest rival that I ever played against on all the surfaces.

"Some matches that we had against each other were a great turning point in my career. I feel they have made me rethink my game."

And made the Serb take his game to superman levels, as in his record-setting 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 triumph over Nadal in 2012 in Melbourne, the longest final in grand slam history that lasted seven minutes shy of six hours.

Novak Djokovic of  Serbia.

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With Nadal seemingly born again in his first tour event since retiring from last September's US Open semi-finals with a knee injury and flying through to the final without dropping a set, Djokovic knows he is in for another titanic tussle seven years on.

"He looked as good as ever on the hard court throughout these few weeks," the top seed said.

"I haven't played bad myself last couple matches. I think that this finals comes at the right time for both of us."

Their places in tennis immortality already assured, both combatants are looking to elevate themselves into crazy new territory with milestone wins.

Djokovic, the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion, is eyeing a third consecutive major, a feat that would make him the only man to win three slams on the trot three times.

A 15th major title would also edge the 31-year-old closer to Federer's benchmark of 20.

Nadal is seeking his 18th major, and with the French Open just months away, the Spaniard could yet overtake his Federer's incredible haul.

Success would be Nadal's fourth in his 30s; something only Federer and Laver have achieved.

A straight-sets victory would also allow 32-year-old Nadal to boast of being the only man in the Open era to win each slam without dropping a set.