Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal Set for 2019 Australian Open Men's Final

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2019

Serbia's Novak Djokovic hits a return against France's Lucas Pouille during their men's singles semi-final match on day 12 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 25, 2019. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --        (Photo credit should read DAVID GRAY/AFP/Getty Images)
DAVID GRAY/Getty Images

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic set up a mouth-watering 2019 Australian Open final against Rafael Nadal by blowing away Lucas Pouille in the semi-finals on Friday.

The Serb won 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour, 23 minutes on Rod Laver Arena in a display of utter dominance.

Pouille, playing in his first Grand Slam semi, was never in the match after he was broken in his opening service game.

Djokovic produced a near-perfect performance but will need to up his level even further if he is to beat Nadal in Sunday's final and win a record seventh title in Melbourne:

PA Sport @pasport

Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic The pair will meet in a grand slam final for the first time since the 2014 French Open #AusOpen https://t.co/bQ1FOHuV46

In five previous appearances in the main draw at the Australian Open, Pouille had never made it past the first round.

As such, the 24-year-old can only regard the 2019 tournament as an unqualified success.

He will, however, likely wish to forget his first appearance in a Grand Slam semi, as he was thrashed by Djokovic.

Pouille did not bring his best game. His first-serve percentage was only 54, and he hit 27 unforced errors in the match.

In truth, though, Djokovic did not let him play:

Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg

This match, to me, is far more about Novak Djokovic playing amazingly well (22 winners, 3 unforced errors) than Pouille falling short. But either way, it's completely uncompetitive--the third such men's match in a row deep in this #AusOpen. 6-0, 6-2, 3-1 after 73 minutes.

Arguably, the Frenchman's best moment in the match was when he went 15-30 ahead in the opening game, hinting at a potential shock early break.

Djokovic duly produced an unreturnable serve and an ace before holding for a 1-0 lead. 

In the second game, Pouille then produced his own back-to-back rockets to save two break points. But he could not save the third, brought up by a stunning down-the-line winner from Djokovic.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 25:  Lucas Pouille of France plays a backhand in his men's semi final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during day 12 of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 25, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

It was clear that the gulf in class between the pair was chasmic, and as if to prove the point, Djokovic wrapped up the opening set in 23 minutes, making just a single unforced error.

Pouille finally got a game on the board, as he held for 1-1 in the second, with two beautiful passing forehands giving the Rod Laver crowd something to get behind.

However, when he went behind 30-40 in his next service game, he double-faulted to hand Djokovic a 3-1 lead.

Few could have lived with Djokovic on Friday, and Pouille surrendered the second set when he was broken again at 5-2 behind:

Carole Bouchard @carole_bouchard

6-0,6-2 Djokovic. Stats are out of this world. 1 UE in first set, 2 in second set. Rest is all winners or counterpunching of genius. Pouille doesn’t see what he can do out there, and no way to blame him.

The third set proceeded in identical fashion, with Djokovic breaking for 3-1 before sealing the match at 6-2 with his relentless hitting.

Pouille never had a break-point opportunity, and when he needed his serve to be at its best, it wasn't.

He is far from the first to have been dominated so comprehensively by Djokovic. But the top seed cannot expect the same in the final, where he faces a Nadal who is in arguably the best form of his career. 


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