'The way I beat Rafael Nadal makes me proud,' Novak Djokovic recalls



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'The way I beat Rafael Nadal makes me proud,' Novak Djokovic recalls

Novak Djokovic claimed the 15th Major title at the 2019 Australian Open to move in front of his idol Pete Sampras. Novak lost a set against Daniil Medvedev and Denis Shapovalov en route to the quarter-final, shifting into a higher gear and racing towards the seventh Australian Open trophy.

In the final, Djokovic toppled his great rival Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, celebrating the title and delivering Nadal's most challenging loss in the Major finals! Recalling the encounter, Novak said he felt proud of how he defeated Rafa, providing a perfect performance and doing everything right against such a grand champion.

Nadal had not lost a set before the title match, suffering only two breaks in six encounters and looking good to win the Australian Open for the first time in ten years. As always, the only problem for the Spaniard rested in the fact that Djokovic was never an ordinary rival for him, failing to beat him outside clay since the 2013 US Open final!

Starting from Beijing that year, Djokovic had scored 13 wins in 16 matches against Nadal for complete domination, extending the advantage in head-to-head encounters to 28-25 after Melbourne. Djokovic's sublime performance left Nadal completely powerless, as the Serb had the upper hand from the first point until the end.

Novak controlled the pace with a masterclass hitting from both wings, opening the court and moving the Spaniard from the comfort zone to tame his forehand and other strokes. Rafa was in all kinds of trouble after not solving how to impose his shots and get some free points against the wall on the other side of the net.

Like many times before, Nadal struggled in forehand-to-backhand exchanges that Djokovic could endure the whole day without losing the pace or momentum, sending missiles from both wings that left Nadal unarmed.

Novak Djokovic lost only eigth games against Rafael Nadal in Melbourne.

Rafa's first serve did not exist on that day, winning miserable 51% of the points after landing it in.

He played better on the second serve but still suffered five breaks from eight opportunities offered to Novak. The Serb was on another level in the serving department, dropping 13 points behind the initial shot and facing only one break chance that he successfully defended to keep his games intact and finish the encounter in the strongest possible way.

Novak had 34 winners and jaw-dropping nine unforced errors, dominating from every inch of the court and leaving Nadal on a 21-28 ratio, far from enough for at least one decent set. "Rafa was in great form ahead of the Australian Open 2019 final; he had not dropped a set the entire tournament, and the way I played against him was just amazing; I was very proud.

It's one of those days where everything works your way perfectly; I was in the flow and played my best tennis," Novak Djokovic said.