The world's leading players Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have both reached the fourth round of the Australian Open for the 13th time, staying on the course for another final in Melbourne, just like in 2019. A year ago, Novak proved to be too strong for Rafa in the title match, becoming the first player who toppled the Spaniard in straight sets in a Major final and adding the 15th Major trophy to his collection to stay in the GOAT race with Roger Federer and Nadal himself.
Novak is the first favorite to lift the trophy next Sunday again, looking strong and sharp in the first three rounds, especially in the last two encounters that he won in great style. The Serb took down Tatsuma Ito and Yoshihito Nishioka in no time at all, dropping 14 games in total and delivering fury from the first serve that led him towards triumphs.
Novak fired 33 aces and won 86 out of 92 points on the first serve to face only one break point in both matches, hoping for more of the same in the fourth round against Diego Schwartzman, his first real test in Melbourne this year.
On the other hand, Nadal looked good against Hugo Dellien and Pablo Carreno Busta, struggling a little bit versus Federico Delbonis during the night session but still standing strong, advancing into the last 16 without losing a set.
The champion from 2009 played his best tennis in the third round against the compatriot Carreno Busta, landing 42 winners and just seven unforced errors to dominate from start to finish and stay on the title course, having 1200 points to defend in the no.
1 battle with Djokovic. Former Australian Open champion Jim Courier believes Novak would be the favorite against Rafa in the potential final, defeating Rafa in the last nine encounters on the hard court and fancying the conditions in Melbourne more than the Spaniard.
"Rafa would have been the favorite against most of the people but not if he faces Novak Djokovic in the final again. The balls are heavy and they are not bouncing up and I think the court suits Novak Djokovic better. Roger Federer is probably not very happy about the balls, as they get big and heavy after just a couple of games."