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Novak Djokovic crushes Rafael Nadal to win record seventh Australian Open
Djokovic at his supreme athletic best to overtake legends Roy Emerson and Roger Federer for record seventh Melbourne title
Last Updated: 27/01/19 3:10pm
An invincible Novak Djokovic landed a historic record seventh men's title at the Australian Open and third successive Grand Slam with a tennis masterclass to crush his great rival Rafael Nadal.
The world No 1 obliterated Nadal in one of the great Grand Slam final performances, winning 6-3 6-2 6-3, finishing with 34 winners and only nine unforced errors on his way to a famous victory in two hours and four minutes.
"I am just trying to contemplate on the journey in the last 12 months," said a beaming Djokovic at the trophy ceremony. "Like Rafa, I had surgery exactly 12 months ago, and to be standing now here in front of you today and managing to win this title and managing to win three out of four slams is amazing. I am speechless."
The showdown between world No 1 Djokovic and second seed Nadal was their 53rd meeting on tour and a repeat of their incredible 2012 final which lasted seven minutes short of six hours, the longest Grand Slam title match in history.
The expectation had been that this would be another epic battle between the unstoppable force against the immovable object, but Djokovic had not read the script.
Nadal had failed to beat Djokovic on a hard court since 2013 and it showed as he made an inauspicious start with Djokovic racing out of the blocks, losing just one point on serve in a flawless display, wrapping up the set 6-3 after 36 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal faced an uphill battle having previously come from a set down to beat Djokovic on three occasions, but never on a hardcourt, while the Serb had won 224 matches in majors and lost only five when winning the opening set.
The 31-year-old took a further stranglehold as some more phenomenal returning gave him a deserved breakthrough in the fifth game of the second set before consolidating it for a 4-2 lead after a lung-busting battle of a game.
Djokovic was handing out a hardcourt lesson to the 'King of Clay' and even though Nadal had improved, his opponent somehow stepped up another level with a break for 5-2 before serving out the set with a forehand winner and three aces.
But this point Djokovic had hit 23 winners and made four unforced errors, losing just six points on serve - four of those in one game, while Nadal's task appeared even greater knowing the last time he came from two sets down to win was over a decade ago at Wimbledon in 2007 when he defeated Mikhail Youzhny in the last-16.
Djokovic sealed an early break for a 2-1 lead in the third before backing it up as 17-time major winner Nadal faced a straight sets defeat in the final of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.
The Spaniard created his first break point of the final in the sixth game but netted his backhand return. He continued to fight tooth and nail to stay in touch, but Djokovic was proving a class apart and it wasn't long before he wrapped up the win with his second championship point when, aptly, Nadal missed once more with a forehand.
Djokovic vs Nadal: Match Stats
|80%||1st serve win percentage||51%|
|84%||2nd serve win percentage||62%|
|5/8||Break points won||0/1|
|16/18||Net points won||7/14|
|89||Total points won||53|
Nadal paid tribute to Djokovic, saying: "The first thing that I have to say is many congratulations to Novak, it was an amazing level of tennis tonight and these two weeks. Well done for everything.
"For me it's so important for me to be where I am today again coming back from injury. I really believe that I played a great two weeks of tennis. That's going to be good energy, a good inspiration for what's coming.
"I'm going to keep fighting hard, I'm going to keep working hard to be a better player. Sometimes this tournament has been tough for me, sometimes in terms of injuries and sometimes opponents, like tonight. I'm going to keep fighting to have better chances."
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