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Djokovic hails 'perfect match' against Rafael Nadal in Australian Open final

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 27 Jan 2019
  • Novak Djokovic has described his superb victory over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final as 'perfect'
  • The world No. 1 crushed his Spanish rival 6-3 6-2 6-3 to win his seventh Australian Open title
Novak Djokovic. (Photo by PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)

World No. 1, Novak Djokovic has described his performance against Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final as 'perfect' as the Serbian reflects on capturing a record-breaking seventh title in Melbourne. 

Djokovic outclassed Nadal 6-3 6-2 6-3 in just over two hours to win the Australian Open for the seventh time, breaking his tie with Roger Federer and Roy Emerson to become the most the most successive man (in singles') in the tournament's history.

Victory on Sunday gave Djokovic his 15th Grand Slam title, moving above Pete Sampras into third on the all-time list. He is now just two majors behind Nadal, and five behind Roger Federer on the all-time time list. At this rate, both of those records are in severe danger. Djokovic has now won three successive majors, having claimed the Wimbledon and US Open titles last season. This is the third time he has won three straight Slams.

He was phenomenal against Nadal on Sunday, hitting 34 winners and committing a barely believable 9 unforced errors against the No. 2 player in the world. Djokovic hardly put a foot wrong against Nadal- he served at 72%, won over 80% on both his first and second serves, and saved the only break point he faced, late in the third set.

Djokovic had been sensational in his semi-final against Lucas Pouille, a performance he called 'divine', but he elevated himself into an even higher realm against Nadal on Sunday with a performance that surprised the man himself. 

“It ranks right at the top”, Djokovic said. “Under the circumstances, playing against Nadal, such an important match, yeah, I mean, it's amazing…It's quite pleasantly surprising to myself, as well, even though I always believe I can play this way, visualize myself playing this way. At this level, as I said, under the circumstances, it was truly a perfect match”.

Nadal had arguably been more impressive in his route to the final, moving through without dropping a set, while Djokovic lost sets against Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev in the third and fourth rounds respectively, but the world No. 1 looked the sharper and more confident from the start, and was quick to stamp his authority on the Spaniard, winning 12 of the first 13 points. He did not lose a point on his serve until he served for the set at 5-3.

“I think for me one of the most important objectives for the match was to start off well and to bring in the right mindset and intensity and make sure that he also feels my presence, as well”, he continued. “He always makes sure that the opponent across the net, crowd and everyone, feels his presence, because that's how who he is. That's how he plays. That's how he behaves. He's so focused, he brings in so much energy, jumping around and sprinting”. 
“Yeah, it was very crucial to start off with an early break, which was ideal scenario for me. Having a set under my belt just made me kind of relax a bit more, not really worry too much. After that, it was really smooth”.

It's been a remarkable transformation for Djokovic from where he was 12 months ago. Looking listless and uncertain, the Serbian crashed to a straight sets defeat to Hyeon Chung in the fourth round in 2018, and subsequently underwent surgery in his elbow. Djokovic returned in time for Indian Wells, but his struggles continued, losing back to back matches at Indian Wells and Miami, and having an ordinary start to the clay court season. However, he gradually regained some form towards the end of the clay-court season, and was back in full flow by Wimbledon. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, and is now the holder of three of the four majors.

Djokovic admitted that he didn't think it was possible to achieve what he has managed in such a short time after the surgery, but he also insisted that he never stopped believing he could get back to his best level.

“I don't want to sound arrogant, but I always believe in myself. I think that's probably the biggest secret of my success, if I can say, or probably any other athlete, is self-belief, always digging deep in the moments when you're facing adversity, digging those moments of complimenting yourself, visualizing yourself as a winner, trying to be in a positive state of mind. It's much easier said than done obviously”. 
“12 months ago it was highly unlikely I would be holding three slams. I just have to be conscious of that and understand that I'm blessed”.

He is certainly blessed, and we are also blessed to have him perform his art in our lifetime.

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Djokovic hails 'perfect match' against Rafael Nadal in Australian Open final

Novak Djokovic has described his performance in the Australian Open final as 'perfect' as he reflects on capturing his record-breaking seventh title in Melbourne.

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