Djokovic v Nadal: The showdown
Originally published on: 27/01/12 17:37
Having bested Nadal in all of the last three Grand Slam finals and their last six finals on tour, Novak Djokovic heads into Sunday’s Australian Open final with history on his side.
The fact that the four-time Grand Slam champion toiled for four hours and 50 minutes to make the Sunday showpiece should have no bearing on the outcome, says the Serb, but he certainly won’t be spending too long hitting balls ahead of their 30th tour clash.
“I’ll try to get as much sleep as I can,” said Djokovic after his epic semi-final triumph over Murray. “I don’t think I’ll practise much. I think I had enough time spent on the court. Now it’s all about recovery.“
Nadal still leads the career head-to-head between the two men, having won 16 of their all-time career encounters to Djokovic’s 13, but that’s a gap the world No.1 is rapidly closing.
Not since the ATP World Tour Finals in 2010 has Nadal beaten Djokovic, and bar the 2010 US Open final before that, Djokovic had won their previous three encounters too.
“I know that I maybe have a mental edge because I’ve won six finals the times we played in 2011 and I’ve had a lot of success against him,” said Djokovic.
“On the other hand, it’s a new challenge. It’s a different situation. He has maybe a day advantage over me for recovery and for getting ready for the finals.
“That’s going to be my main priority and concern the next day and a half, to physically be able to perform my best and be ready to play five sets.
“If I am able to do that, then I believe I can win.”
Even in spite of spending close to five hours on court in the semi-finals, Djokovic has competed over an hour and a half less during the tournament than Nadal, who has battled for 16 hours and 33 minutes to be in a position to challenge for his second Melbourne crown. Djokovic, meanwhile, has been on court for a ‘mere’ 14 hours and 58 minutes.
Should the Serb survive the test and go the distance, he would become the fourth man in the open era to win three or more Australian Open titles. Through to his fourth straight Grand Slam final, Nadal, will certainly have something to say about that.