It came as no surprise that Novak Djokovic beat Lucas Pouille. The Frenchman’s efforts in the last twelve days deserved a more respectable scoreline than 6/0 6/2 6/2 though. There were a couple of BIG factors as to why that happened. Simply, Djokovic played his best match of the event and Pouille looked a bit tired and nervy. The first few points were encouraging as he went 15-30 on Nole’s first service game. He stroked a crosscourt forehand for a winner and then hit a tidy volley at the end of a well-worked point. In truth, Nole never really gave him much of a chance today and he made sure the match was played on his terms.
So, we have another Djokovic v Nadal final. Nole says Rafa has been the biggest rival in his career. It will be the fifty-third time that these two have met. Djokovic leads the series 27-25. Rafa has not beaten Djokovic outside of clay since the US Open Final in 2013, Djokovic has won their last eight non-clay court encounters. It 12-3 since that meeting in NYC. Their last meeting was that incredible semi-final at Wimbledon last year.
Rafa has been impeccable from word dot in Melbourne. Djokovic had been solid but has now upped his level in the nick of time. Who is going to win? The form and recent head to head would say Nole, the betting would say Nole too (Betfair is 4/5 v 5/4). So I will go with Rafa. There is a worry that Djokovic could neutralise Nadal’s serve, which has been such a crucial part of his game during the fortnight. There is also the danger that if it becomes a slug fest (which it may well), Djokovic might well get the better of him, he has found a way in those situations as time has evolved. However, I just feel that Rafa will be a little bit fresher, having had less court time than usual going into this one. In terms of value, there is none, the prices will obviously be rock solid at this stage. As I have mentioned before, the way I have called this tournament, you might well want to take my opinion with a pinch of salt.
Either way, this is lined up to be an absolute screamer come Sunday. I am really looking forward to it. You almost take it as a given that this will be a match and a half, as they always deliver. It is time for Rafa to put a few demons to bed here but Djokovic will definitely have something to say about that. Enjoy.
Andy Del Potro