In the end, there will be Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the number one and the number two of the seeding to play the men's singles final at the Australian Open 2019. We had predicted this final in our Melbourne preview, but it is the way these two legends have reached this milestone that has kept the attention of fans and media The Serb and Spaniard have reached the 53rd page of their historic rivalry, the most intense, for the number of challenges played, in the Open Era.
Yet in their personal story, only one time the two played a match in Melbourne; the 2012 epic final won by Nole in five memorable sets. Djokovic leads 27-25 in the head-to-head; the last match is another excellent challenge, the Wimbledon 2018 semi-final.
Their path towards the final was clear. Djokovic eliminated rivals like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Denis Shapovalov, Daniil Medvedev, Kei Nishikori and Lucas Pouille. Nadal showed a state of exceptional shape; in his path, he brutally eliminated opponents like Alex De Minaur, Tomas Berdych, Frances Tiafoe and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The younger of the NextGen is not yet able to compete with these fantastic Old Gen old guys. The challenge will be balanced, but perhaps Nadal could have a small advantage. The few energy wasted and a slower surface than in 2017 and 2018, could favour him.
However, it was his athletic and mental state of shape that impressed fans and opponents, unable to react to his athletic and tactical power. Djokovic can beat his rival only by maintaining an indestructible mental strength, raising the level of play at crucial moments.
It will be an epic and fun fight and, whoever will win will get a new record; he had to win Nole, he would become the most titled tennis player in the men's singles history of the Australian Open. Should he win Rafa, he would become the only player to have won at least twice time the Grand Slam tournaments in the Open Era.Whoever will win will move another step to Roger Federer's Slam-record.
Talking about numbers, in career, Djokovic won 14 Majors, of which 6 Australian Open. He achieved 72 titles (54 on hard surfaces) in 105 finals played. Nadal has 17 Slams, of which one title in Melbourne. In career, he got 80 titles (19 on hard) in 116 finals played.
Australian Open, men's singles final - percentages: Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal 45% - 55% ALSO READ: The recovery of energy in tennis: all you need to know