Novak Djokovic will face Rafael Nadal in the 2019 Australian Open men’s singles final, after thrashing Lucas Pouille 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the semi-final.
The two titans of the game will meet in a grand slam final for the eighth time after comprehensive semi-final victories. It will be Djokovic’s seventh Australian Open final, and his first since 2016. He has won all six of his previous finals in Melbourne.
Nadal had outclassed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 in Thursday’s semi-final but Djokovic was even more dominant in his match-up against an emerging star. France’s Pouille, who defeated Milos Raonic to reach the semis, won only four games.
“It’s definitely one of the best matches I ever had on this court,” Djokovic said. “Everything worked the way I imagined it before the match.”
The No 1 seed had words of encouragement for his opponent, saying “he has the quality to be a top 10 player. It was his first semi-final and the occasion is different,” Djokovic added. “He is going to get more matches in the latter stages of grand slams.”
Nadal needed all of 11 minutes Thursday to show Tsitsipas — and everyone else — that his upset of Roger Federer was not going to be replicated. Not even close. Breaking Tsitsipas in the match’s third game and then another five times Thursday while never facing a break point himself until the final game, Nadal won 6-2, 6-4, 6-0.
“It felt like a different dimension of tennis completely,” said the 14th-seeded Tsitsipas, a blank expression on his face. “He gives you no rhythm. He plays just a different game style than the rest of the players. He has this, I don’t know, talent that no other player has. I’ve never seen a player have this. He makes you play bad.”
It was the same straight-sets, no-contest treatment Nadal gave to Alex de Minaur, 19, in the third round and Frances Tiafoe, 21, in the quarterfinals.
Asked if he was trying to make a statement with the way he soundly defeated these talents on the rise, Nadal said: “They don’t need any message, no. They are good. They’re improving every month. So it’s always a big challenge to play against them.”
Sure hasn’t seemed like it.
Tsitsipas’ run to the first major semifinal of his nascent career was most notable for the way he beat 20-time major champion Federer in the fourth round, saving 12 of 12 break points across four sets and 3 hours, 45 minutes.
But the left-handed Nadal, 32, was a much more difficult puzzle to solve.
On Sunday, the Spaniard will try to earn his second Australian Open title — he won the hard-court event in 2009 — and his 18th Slam trophy.
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