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Djokovic vs Nadal Australian Open live streaming, preview and tips - History on the line as Djokovic and Nadal write another chapter in record rivalry

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 26 Jan 2019
  • Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal is live from Melbourne Park at 7.30pm local time on Sunday (8.30am GMT)
  • Djokovic leads their head-to-head 27-25
  • Nadal has never lost a major final when advancing to the title match without dropping a set
  • Djokovic is aiming for his third straight slam and a record seventh Australian Open
  • Nadal attempting to become third player in history to win each major at least twice
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal square off for a record 53rd time when they battle it out for the 2019 Australian Open title on Sunday night in Melbourne.

History is once again on the line as modern-day legends Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal renew their storied rivalry in the 2019 Australian Open final on Sunday at Melbourne Park. Can Djokovic become the first man to win seven Australian Open titles and capture a third straight Grand Slam following his triumphs at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year? Or will Nadal follow in Rod Laver and Roy Emerson’s footsteps as the only men to secure all four major titles on at least two occasions? Djokovic has won their last seven matches on hardcourt, leads their overall head-to-head 27-25 and holds a 14-10 record in finals between the pair - but Nadal has never lost a Grand Slam final when advancing to the title match without dropping a set. It’s their first Grand Slam final since the 2014 French Open and their first meeting at the Australian Open since their famous 2012 final, which Djokovic won in five sets and after nearly six hours of energy-sapping tennis. The stage is set for another dramatic final showdown under the lights of Rod Laver Arena between two of the greatest players of all time - who will step up and walk away with the ultimate prize?

Novak Djokovic (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
It’s been a fairly comfortable route to the final for six-time champion Djokovic. The Serbian did drop a couple of sets in four-set wins over Next Generation players Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev along the way in the third and fourth rounds respectively, but he was never in any real danger of even being stretched to five in either match, while he’s barely lost games in his last two matches to return to the final in Melbourne.

Djokovic was somewhat fortunate to benefit from a Kei Nishikori retirement in the quarter-finals, with the Japanese pulling the plug while trailing 1-6 1-4, but to be honest, even a fully fit Nishikori was never going to seriously challenge the World No. 1 on hardcourt, while the Serbian produced one of his most ruthless and commanding performances in years in the semi-finals on Friday night against Lucas Pouille, crushing the Frenchman by a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 scoreline in just 83 minutes. Djokovic committed just five unforced errors during the near-flawless performance, making a huge statement ahead of the final.

"Today was a perfect match for me from the first to the last point,” said Djokovic. “I executed everything that I intended to and even more than I had expected.”

Djokovic improved his record at the Australian Open from the semi-finals onwards to a perfect 13-0 and will now go in search of his 15th Grand Slam title on Sunday night. This time last year, it appeared a distant dream that Djokovic would be able to return to his dominant best (at least so quickly), but after a challenging first half of the 2018 season, the 31-year-old produced an extraordinary resurgence, winning two more slams at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and a pair of Masters 1000 crowns in Cincinnati and Shanghai, while he also finished runner-up at the Paris Masters and Nitto ATP Finals, losing three matches since June.

Djokovic brings a 18-7 record on hardcourts over Nadal, but the Spaniard is 9-5 at Grand Slam level overall and 4-3 in finals - does that mean the World No. 2 has the advantage on Sunday?

Rafael Nadal (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
Nadal has put together the most merciless run at a Grand Slam outside of the French Open in his entire career at the 2019 Australian Open, advancing to the title match without dropping a set and losing just 48 games. Nadal has taken care of a trio of Australians (James Duckworth, Matthew Ebden & Alex de Minaur), a former top 10 stalwart (Tomas Berdych) and two members of the Next Generation (Frances Tiafoe & Stefanos Tsitsipas) en route to the showpiece event, proving that any change of the guard talk is well and truly premature.

So dominant was Nadal’s 6-2 6-4 6-0 victory over Tsitsipas in Thursday night’s semi-final, the Greek youngster’s post-match press conference transformed into a therapy session as he desperately searched for answers as to why he was unable to do anything to trouble the Spaniard. A feature of Nadal’s brilliant run to the Australian Open final has been his serving displays, which bring back memories of his 2010 U.S. Open triumph, where the Spaniard made a concerted effort to add more pace behind his delivery. The 32-year-old is doing the same in Melbourne, producing more pop on his serve and allowing him to finish rallies more quickly as a result.

“I'm serving better. That's why I'm able to create more winners on the first ball,” Nadal said. “That's the only reason. For the rest of the things, I always tried to be aggressive. I have my mentality. You can't go against the way you understand the sport. I can't play trying to hit winners every ball, if I don't understand the sport that way. You can't deal with the pressure. The mental part has to go in front of the game.”

Nadal has endured some heartbreaking times in Melbourne since debuting in 2004, missing the 2006 and 2013 editions, finishing runner-up in 2012 in the aforementioned epic six-hour final against Djokovic (along with two more second-places in 2014, where a back injury surfaced against Stan Wawrinka, and 2017 vs Roger Federer in five sets), while he also retired in 2010 against Andy Murray in the quarter-finals and was hindered by a knee injury at the same stage the following year against David Ferrer. Nadal also retired in last year’s tournament in the quarter-finals against Marin Cilic. Can he avoid more heartbreak in the 2018 final?

It’s the most prolific rivalry in the Open Era and history will be made once again on Sunday night. It goes without saying so much is on the line for both men in terms of Grand Slam title count - if Nadal can prevail, he will move to within two of Federer, and with the French Open coming up next, he could propel himself into a position to equal the Swiss later in 2018. For Djokovic, he can move ahead of Pete Sampras into outright third on 15, behind his two contemporaries, while the Serbian is also eyeing off a record seventh Australian Open title, where he would break free from Federer and Roy Emerson. As far as this match goes, it’s so tough to call. Both players have been in ruthless form, especially in their semi-finals, so there’s every chance this one could end up being another marathon. I think Djokovic’s hardcourt record against Nadal and past performances in Melbourne make him the slight favourite, but with the way the Spaniard has been playing over the last fortnight, he’s in with his best shot in a long time of completing the ultimate 10-year challenge and adding the 2019 Australian Open title to his 2009 triumph.

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Djokovic vs Nadal Australian Open live streaming, preview and tips - History on the line as Djokovic and Nadal write another chapter in record rivalry

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal square off for a record 53rd time when they battle it out for the 2019 Australian Open title on Sunday night in Melbourne.

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