Sports

Australian Open: Djokovic beats Pouille to reach final

Australian Open: Djokovic beats Pouille to reach final

"The intensity that he brings on the court is huge", Djokovic said.

Djokovic said that the intensity Nadal brings on the court is huge and without a doubt, probably the most intense tennis player that he has witnessed and played against.

A win for Djokovic would move him past Pete Sampras (14) to outright third on the list of Grand Slam title winners. "We know we have to go match by match, but in the end he is Nadal and you always believe that he will have a chance to do well".

All sounds rather similar to the way someone might describe competing against Djokovic. This marks the 53rd time Djokovic and Nadal have gone head-to-head. He demolished the 19-year-old Alex de Minaur in the Round of 32, thrashed Frances Tiafoe, 21, in the quarter-final, and trounced Tsitsipas in the semi.

Djokovic has a thin edge on serve - around a 2-3% advantage based on hold percentages - both in the last six months, and the last 12 months, on hard court, while both players have extremely similar return data. Djokovic leads 18-7.

In all Grand Slam meetings, Nadal has a clear advantage with a 9-5 win-loss record.

It has been a tournament he has owned for much of the past 11 years since beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for his first Grand Slam title in 2008 as a 20-year-old.

"For me it's very special just (to) be where I am after coming back from a long period of time with a lot of injuries in a row and to be able to be where I am means everything to me, " Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open champion, told Nine's Wide World of Sports.

Nadal seeks his fifth title in Melbourne and would become the first man in the Open Era to win each of Grand Slam twice. I think he has to avoid that.

"I think these kind of matches come down to three or four points, like happened in Wimbledon". I won also some great matches.

He added: "I've played a fantastic tournament until this moment without any doubt, maybe the best I've played here in my career".

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'What more can you ask for?'

Djokovic is to collect a record seventh Australian Open title, breaking a tie with Roy Emerson and Roger Federer.

The top-seeded Djokovic is contesting his 34th career Grand Slam semifinal.

But for the two men, the battle of wills, strokes, lungs and heart appears to matter more than anything.

As with Federer previous year, Nadal's form suggests that champions can benefit from prolonged practice coming into the start of the season.

Nadal comes up against current world No 1 Novak Djokovic with the Serb aiming to win the Australian Open for a record-breaking seventh time.

Tsitsipas on Nadal: "Just has a talent to make you play bad".

It is the first time the 28th-seeded Pouille ever has been this far at a Slam.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, two of sport's oldest and greatest rivals, have been pitted against each other in what promises to be yet another must-see showpiece. Nobody in men's singles history, not even Federer, has won that many trophies in Melbourne.

There were also the elbow problems that sidelined him for many months and necessitated surgery after his fourth round loss to Hyeon Chung at Melbourne Park previous year.

It may be a little different compared to 2012, but Nadal and Djokovic are sure to deliver again.


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