With 31 grand slams between them Sunday’s final promises to be another classic
Australian Open men’s singles final
Who: Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal
When: Sunday 27 January
Where: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne Park
Estimated start time: 8.30am (GMT)
TV channel: live on Eurosport, highlights on BBC Two
When Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal last played each other at the Australian Open it was the epic 2012 final which took 5 hours and 53 minutes to complete.
On that occasion Serbian Djokovic secured the title with a 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7 (5–7), 7–5 victory over his Spanish rival. The 2012 classic has been recorded as the longest grand slam final of the Open era.
Rule changes mean that the final sets in Melbourne are now decided by a super tie-break after six-games-all and a first to ten points format.
‘I would buy a ticket’
If Sunday’s final does go to a fifth set there won’t be a chance of seeing the duo break their previous record, but world No.1 Djokovic still expects fans to witness a classic.
Speaking after his 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 semi-final victory against Lucas Pouille, the 14-time grand slam winner said: “First of all, I would definitely want to buy a ticket for the match.
“I think that this final comes at the right time for both of us. I’m sure we’re going to have a blast on the court.
“We can promise one thing, and that’s knowing both of us are going to give absolutely everything out on the court. I think people will enjoy it.”
From their 52 previous matches Djokovic has 27 wins compared to Nadal’s 25. The 31-year-old Djokovic has full respect for his fellow finalist: “He’s my biggest rival in my career. I’ve played so many matches against him, epic matches on this court.”
For Nadal, 32, he has been pleased with his form in Melbourne despite starting the season with injury worries. “To start the season like this when a few weeks ago I was in Brisbane having to take a tough decision not to play there, it is difficult to imagine where I am today,” said the 17-time grand slam winner. “But I never stopped practising. That week of practice made me feel good.
“It has been a great tournament and I have played very well every day. Hopefully I can play better than that.”
Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal 2012 Australian Open final tennis
Head to head
World ranking: 1
ATP career titles: 72
Grand slam titles: 14
Australian Open titles: 6 (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016)
Record vs. Nadal: 52 matches, 27 wins
World ranking: 2
ATP career titles: 80
Grand slam titles: 17
Australian Open titles: 1 (2009)
Record vs. Djokovic: 52 matches, 25 wins