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Djokovic vs Nadal Australian Open Final: Legendary duo set to create more history as they clash for the 53rd time

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 26 Jan 2019
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal meet in the Australian Open men's singles final on Sunday
  • Nadal and Djokovic are set to break more records in their 53rd meeting
Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in a historic final in 2012. (Photo by PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic meet for the 53rd time in a hugely-anticipated Australian Open final on Sunday- and unsurprisingly, there are quite a few records on the line as the great men go head-to head.

Nadal and Djokovic are contesting their 25th and 24th Grand Slam finals respectively, leaving them second and third on the all-time list, behind Roger Federer, who leads the way with 30 finals. Djokovic leads Nadal 27-25 on head-to-head, but Nadal has a 9-5 lead in majors, and a 4-3 advantage in Grand Slam finals. They have met just one at the Australian Open, with Djokovic winning a 5 hour 53-minute epic in the 2012 final- the longest major final in the history of the sport.

“Nadal has historically throughout my life and career been the greatest rival that I ever played against, on all the surfaces,” Djokovic said. 
“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". 
“Those kind of encounters have also made me the player I am today, without a doubt. 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 is 6-0 in Australian Open finals, and if he maintains that perfection by the end of Sunday’s match, the Serbian will stand alone on top of the pile as the most successful man in Australian Open men’s singles history. Djokovic will move up to a seven Australian Open titles, breaking his current tie with Roger Federer and Roy Emerson.

Novak Djokovic. (Photo by PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)
Djokovic is currently locked with Pete Sampras on 14 Grand Slam titles, but a 15th major triumph on Sunday will give him sole ownership of third place on the all-time list, behind Roger Federer, on 20, and Rafael Nadal’s 17. The Serbian is also bidding to win three-successive Grand Slam titles for the third time in his career, having won Wimbledon and the US Open last season. Djokovic last won three straight majors in 2015-2016, (when he held all four at the same time), while he did it for the first time in 2011-2012. The last man to win three straight Slams outside Djokovic was Nadal, who won Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010, while Roger Federer did the hat-trick in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. Neither Federer nor Nadal has ever won four in a row.
Before the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic era, the last man to win three consecutive Slams was Pete Sampras in 1993-94.

Djokovic isn’t the only one chasing history, as Nadal also has quite a few records to break. The 2009 champion is looking to win his second Australian Open title, which would make him the first man in the Open Era, and the third all-time, to win all four Grand Slams on at least two occasions. Not even Federer or Djokovic has managed that. He will have to snap a run of three straight defeats in Australian Open finals though, having fallen to Djokovic in 2012, Stan Wawrinka in 2014, and Roger Federer in 2017. Only Andy Murray, with his five Australian Open runner-up finishes, has lost more Melbourne finals in the Open Era. (Stefan Edberg is tied with Nadal on three Australian Open final defeats). Deep down, Nadal must feel he should have won at least one of those finals- he was a break up in final sets against Djokovic and Federer, and got injured just before that 2014 final against Wawrinka. Will his luck change this time around?

Victory for Nadal will also take him up to 18 Grand Slam titles, and with his bread and butter, the French Open coming up, he could be up to 19 by the middle of the year, sitting just one behind Roger Federer’s 20 heading into Wimbledon. It’s not done and dusted yet on top of that all-time list!

Rafael Nadal. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
This next one is unlikely to happen, but it’s still worth mentioning! Nadal is attempting to win a Grand Slam without losing a set for the fourth time in his career, and the first time outside Roland Garros. He won the French Open without dropping a set in 2008, 2010 and 2017. Overall, winning a Grand Slam without losing a set has been done 17 times, with Nadal and Bjorn Borg leading the way with three each. Roger Federer has managed it twice, while Djokovic, perhaps surprisingly, has never done it. He obviously won’t be doing it in Melbourne this year having already dropped sets to Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev en route the final.

Nadal is also bidding to become just the third player in the Open Era to win multiple Grand Slam titles after turning 32, joining Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer on that exclusive list. If Nadal wins on Sunday, he will pick up his fourth major after his 30th birthday, matching the Open Era record jointly held by Rosewall, Federer and Rod Laver. 

Djokovic can move level with Nadal on three post-30 Slams on Sunday, while he will also become just the second man in the Open Era to win three consecutive major titles after turning 30, if he gets over the line. The only other person to do that was Rod Laver. Either way, Sunday’s winner will be the 10th consecutive 30-plus men’s singles’ Grand Slam champion, dating back to Stan Wawrinka’s US Open success in 2016. The young guns may be rising, but the old guard are still very much in command!

Djokovic vs Nadal is live from Melbourne on Sunday, 27 January from 7:30pm local time/ 8:30am GMT. Read the full match preview!

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Djokovic vs Nadal Australian Open Final: Legendary duo set to create more history as they clash for the 53rd time

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are set to break more records as they meet for the 53rd time on Sunday.

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