Novak Djokovic Verses Foe Rafael Nadal: Five Milestones Up For Grabs In Australian Open Final - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Verses Foe Rafael Nadal: Five Milestones Up For Grabs In Australian Open Final

The 53rd meeting between the two tennis legends will be an historic one for the winner in Melbourne Park on Sunday.

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Novak Djokovic (via Twitter, @AustralianOpen) and Rafa Nadal (@Sport Vision, Chryslène Caillaud)

This year’s Australian Open final will continue the most extensive rivalry in the history of men’s tennis between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

 

The two will clash for a record 53rd time in Melbourne Park. So far in their rivalry, they have faced each other in 25 finals on the ATP Tour. Eight of which has been in the final of a major. Djokovic currently boasts a 27-25 advantage in their head-to-head. He has also won their seven most recent meetings on a hard-court. However, their last was at the 2016 Indian Wells Masters. Since then, Nadal has triumphed twice on clay and Djokovic has won on both clay and grass.

Besides the renewal in what is one of the biggest rivalries in the history of tennis, here are five records that could be broken during their latest meeting on Sunday.

Lucky No.7 for Djokovic?

14 years ago at Melbourne Park was where it all started for Novak Djokovic’s grand slam career. At the age of 17 he took on Marat Safin in the first round, winning just three games in the match. Since then, the Serbian player has established himself as one of the most successful players in the history of the tournament by winning it no less than six times.

Should Djokovic prevail once again on Sunday, he will become the first man in history to claim a seventh title. Surpassing a record he currently shares with Roger Federer and Roy Emerson. He is already one of two male players in history to participate in seven Australian Open finals, along with Federer.

Run to 2019 final
R1: 6-3 6-2 6-2 Kreuger
R2: 6-3 7-5 6-4 Tsonga
R3: 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-0 Shapovalov
R4: 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-3 Medvedev
QF: 6-1 4-1 RET Nishikori
SF: 6-0 6-2 6-2 Pouille

Nadal’s perfect run

Entering the Australian Open with a series of injury concerns over his head, Nadal has proven that he is back to top form. So far in the tournament he is yet to drop a set. The biggest threat he faced was Tomer Berdych in the fourth round, who took him to a tiebreaker in the third set.

Run to 2019 final
R1: 6-4 6-3 7-5 Duckworth
R2: 6-3 6-2 6-2 Ebden
R3: 6-1 6-2 6-4 De Minaur
R4: 6-0 6-1 7-6 Berdych
QF: 6-3 6-4 6-2 Tiafoe
SF: 6-2 6-4 6-0 Tsitsipas

Should Nadal defeat Djokovic in straight sets, which he hasn’t done in a major since the 2008 French Open, he would become the first man in the Open Era to win four grand slam titles without dropping a set. In Australian Open history, Ken Rosewall (1971) and Federer (2007) are the only two players to have achieved that record in the men’s draw.

The over 30s

The clash between 31-year-old Djokovic and 32-year-old Nadal has ensured that a player over the age of 30 will win a major title for the 10th time in a row. To put this into perspective, the previous record was Laver’s tally of four during 1969.

As it currently stands, Nadal and Djokovic are second and third retrospectively in terms of most titles won after their 30th birthday. If Nadal wins, he will go to joint first with four titles. He has previously won the French Open twice (201/2018) and the 2017 US Open. Djokovic will climb to second of the all-time list with three if he wins. Drawing level with Nadal in that scenario.

Player Grand Slam titles won aged 30+
Roger Federer – 4 (2012 Wimbledon, 2017 Australian Open, 2017 Wimbledon, 2018 Australian Open)
Rod Laver – 4 (1969 Australian Open, 1969 Roland Garros, 1969 Wimbledon, 1969 US Open)
Ken Rosewall – 4 (1968 Roland Garros, 1970 US Open, 1971 Australian Open, 1972 Australian Open)
Rafael Nadal – 3 (2017 Roland Garros, 2017 US Open, 2018 Roland Garros)
Novak Djokovic – 2 (2018 Wimbledon, 2018 US Open
Andre Agassi – 2 (2001 Australian Open, 2003 Australian Open)
Jimmy Connors – 2 (1982 US Open, 1983 US Open)
Stan Wawrinka – 2 (2015 Roland Garros, 2016 US Open

Nadal eyes the quadruple-double

In the generation of the big four, Nadal could become the first of them to hold a unique record. Should he win, he would become the first player in the Open Era to win every grand slam at least twice. His current title record in the majors stands as the following :-

11 at the French Open (an achievement no other player has achieved at the same grand slam)
3 US Open
2 Wimbledon
1 Australian Open

In the history of the sport, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson achieved the record before the start of the Open Era in 1969. In Laver’s case, some of the titles he was was before 1969.

Djokovic’s hat-trick of hat-trick’s

Finally, Djokovic is bidding to win three consecutive grand slam titles for the third time in his career. Something that has never been achieved in the history of men’s tennis. During 2011-2012 he claimed three major titles in a row between Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Four years later he completed a calendar grand slam at the 2016 French Open. Where a player holds all the  grand slam titles at the same time, but not within the same year.

At present, Djokovic is on a 20-match winning streak in major tournaments.

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Monte Carlo Breakthrough Leaves Andrey Rublev With Mixed Emotions

The world No.8 takes confidence from his latest run but admits it is ‘impossible’ to play at his very top level every week on the Tour.

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After achieving a career milestone at the Monte Carlo Masters, Andrey Rublev was sent crashing down to earth on Sunday.

 

The Russian tennis star broke new territory at the tournament by reaching his first ever Masters 1000 final at the age of 23. However, he was denied the title by Stefanos Tsitsipas who produced a clinical performance to seal victory in just 71 minutes. Ending Rublev’s run of winning seven finals in a row.

“I feel happy with the week, and I feel super sad with the final, that I couldn’t show my game,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“Of course, I’m happy with the week because I beat so many great players and I beat one of the best players in history. It’s a special week.”

Earlier in the tournament Rublev stunned the draw when he upset Rafael Nadal in three sets en route to the semi-finals. Making it the fourth time in his career he has scored a win over a player ranked No.3 in the world. He is also the first player in history to come back from a set down to defeat Nadal at the tournament.

Besides the king of clay, Rublev also dismissed Roberto Bautista Agut and Casper Ruud. He has now won 24 matches on the ATP Tour this season which is more than anybody else. However, he is reluctant to link all of his match play with his latest performance.

“I feel tired after all the matches that I play, exhausted. But this is not excuse. He was just better than me, and that’s it,” he stated.
“Not always everything goes your way. It happened today. I was completely exhausted. Stefanos, he showed great game. He was just better than me, and that’s it.”

Despite his recent success, Rublev is eager to not get too far ahead of himself heading into the French Open. A Grand Slam where he has only played in the main draw twice before, including last year where he reached the quarter-finals.

“I would like to play really good in Madrid and I would like to play really good in Rome. I would like to play all of the weeks good. But it’s impossible,” he explains.
“Some of the weeks for sure will be better, some will be worse and some will be amazing.’
“For the moment I’m playing really consistent. I’m really happy I’m playing my best season so far. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Rublev is set to return to action next week at the Barcelona Open where he will be the third seed.

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Former Australian Open Semi-Finalist Kyle Edmund Undergoes Surgery

It has been reported that the world No.69 may not be able to return to the Tour for ‘several more months.’

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British world No.69 Kyle Edmund is set to be sidelined from the Tour for some time after having surgery to treat a long-standing problem in Switzerland. 

 

The former British No.1 has confirmed he had a ‘small procedure’ on his knee after being hampered with issues in the area ever since 2018 when a scan revealed that he had fluid behind his left knee. Details of the surgery have not been disclosed by the person who conducted the operation was Dr Roland Biedert, according to BBC Sport. A specialist Orthopaedic surgeon who has also operated on Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro.

“I had a small procedure on my knee. I’m currently rehabbing. The recovery is going well and I hope to be back on court as soon as possible.” Edmund said.

Currently ranked 69th in the world, Edmund hasn’t played a competitive match since losing in the first round of qualifying at the Vienna Open last October due to his knee. 2020 saw mixed fortunes for the 26-year-old. After winning the New York Open during February of that year, he lost seven out of 10 matches played during the rest of the season. Including five defeats in a row.

No return date has been outlined by Edmund or his team following the surgery. However, British media have reported that he may be out for ‘several more months.’ Casting doubts over his chances of being ready in time for Wimbledon which starts on June 28th. He hasn’t been absent from a Wimbledon main draw since 2012.

Edmund has been ranked as high as 14th in the world with his best Grand Slam run being to the semi-finals of the 2018 Australian Open. Overall, he has won two ATP titles and has earned more than $5.7 in prize money. 

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Grigor Dimitrov Blames Poor Monte Carlo Performance On ‘Big Infection’

The 29-year-old reveals the reason behind his error-stricken performance at the Monte Carlo Country Club on Thursday.

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Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov said he simply ‘didn’t play’ in his latest match at the Monte Carlo Masters after winning just two games against Rafael Nadal.

 

The world No.17 fell 6-1, 6-1, to the 20-time Grand Slam champion in less than an hour on Thursday. He won 48% of his first service points and 32% of his second, as he hit 32 unforced errors. A dismal performance from Dimitrov who had beaten Jan-Lennard Struff and Jeremy Chardy earlier in the tournament.

Whilst it was never going to be easy playing somebody of Nadal’s calibre, Dimitrov has revealed that he had been troubled by an issue away from the court. He has been suffering from a ‘big infection’ in his tooth which has had an impact on his preparation for the match.

“I’ve been struggling with a massive tooth problem for the past four or five days,” he said. “I have a big infection in my tooth. It’s been hard. I haven’t been able to sleep well or eat well or anything like that.’
“I was bearing it for a while this whole week.”

It is another case of bad luck for Dimitrov on the Tour this season. At the Australian Open he reached the quarter-finals in what was his best Grand Slam performance since the 2019 US Open. However, in his last eight showdown with Russia’s Aslan Karatsev he was hindered by a back injury.

“It’s straight to the doctor’s, unfortunately,” he commented on his tooth. “Very, very unpleasant moment. It is what it is.’
“At least I’m glad it happened on a home soil so I can go see my dentist and figure this problem as soon as possible.Hopefully it’s not too serious and I’ll be able to come back as soon as possible.”

Speaking in his press conference, Nadal said he ‘felt sorry’ for his opponent who ‘played a bad match.’ During the match the world No.3 wasn’t aware of Dimitrov’s problem but was told about it afterwards.

“I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy, a good friend. I just hope the situation is to improve as soon as possible,” he said.

Nadal, who is seeking a record 12th title in Monte Carlo, will play Russia’s Andrey Rublev next.

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