'Somewhat ready for Novak Djokovic means...', says top analyst
by SIMONE BRUGNOLI | VIEW 1225
Novak Djokovic captured his first major title at the 2008 Australian Open. The Serb has been a dominant figure in Australia since 2011, barely losing a match and with nine Australian Open trophies to his credit. Novak has played some epic matches in Melbourne, but one stands out above them all.
Djokovic faced his great rival Rafael Nadal in the 2012 final and won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 after five hours and 53 minutes. Thus, Novak lifted the trophy in the longest Major final ever, losing 4-2, 30-15 in the decider and still emerging on top.
Djokovic had to go all out against Andy Murray in the semi-final, play another five-setter and conserve energy for the title clash. Nadal and he pushed themselves to the limit like never before. The Spaniard missed his famous backhand in the seventh game of the decider, which likely cost him his second Australian Open title.
Djokovic created 20 break chances, converting seven and dropping serve four times. The Serb had more winners and forced more errors from the Spaniard. He hammered out the victory in the mid-distance exchanges, as nothing could separate them in the longer, faster rallies.
The big rivals needed 40 minutes to complete the first six games, with Nadal winning 4-2 before Djokovic claimed the next three games to open a gap to 5-4. The Spaniard scored another break at 5-5 when Novak sent a long backhand and converted his third set point in the following game for 7-5 after one hour and 20 minutes.
Djokovic responded with a break in the tenth game of the second set after a costly double fault from Nadal to level the aggregate score at 1-1. Novak built on that momentum and claimed the third set 6-2, playing well and closing in on the goal.
Nadal fought back and took the fourth set in a tie break after almost 90 minutes to send the match to a decider and extend an epic encounter.
Djokovic is looking for his 22nd Grand Slam
Novak Djokovic has an enviable record at the Australian Open.
"I think Novak is the number one favourite for many, many reasons. I mean, obviously, one reason is that he's won the Australian Open nine times. The surface is perfect for him," Wilander said. "When you play the way Novak plays, he doesn't have ups and downs.
Everybody is not 100% ready in Australia. Some are very ready, some are not ready, and he is always somewhat ready. Somewhat ready for him means he's the favourite," he added.