(Reuters) – A look at the records of Spain’s Rafa Nadal and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic before their title clash at the Australian Open on Sunday (prefix number denotes seeding):
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Semi-final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 24, 2019. Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during the match against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
ATP ranking: 2
ATP titles: 80
Coaches: Carlos Moya, Francisco Roig
Grand Slam titles: 17 (Australian Open 2009; French Open 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018; Wimbledon 2008, 2010; U.S. Open 2010, 2013, 2017)
2018 Australian Open performance: Quarter-finals
Best Australian Open performance: Winner (2009)
Road to final:
First round: James Duckworth (Australia) 6-4 6-3 7-5
Second round: Matthew Ebden (Australia) 6-3 6-2 6-2
Third round: 27-Alex de Minaur (Australia) 6-1 6-2 6-4
Fourth round: Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) 6-0 6-1 7-6(4)
Quarter-finals: Frances Tiafoe (U.S.) 6-3 6-4 6-2
Semi-finals: Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece) 6-2 6-4 6-0
Nadal has scythed down younger opponents in ruthless fashion at Melbourne this year to come within touching distance of his second Australian Open crown, a title he last won 10 years ago.
The Spaniard came into the tournament short of match fitness after poor luck with injuries at the end of last season spilled over into 2019 and prompted him to pull out of the warm-up event in Brisbane earlier this month.
But the 17-times Grand Slam winner has roared back to his dominant best ahead of a 53rd career meeting with the in-form Djokovic, setting up what promises to be a classic contest between an unstoppable force and an immovable object.
In Djokovic, Nadal faces a rival who can match his limitless energy and the 32-year-old will bank on his accuracy and whipping forehand to be the weapon that can make a difference.
ATP ranking: 1
ATP titles: 72
Coach: Marian Vajda
Grand Slam titles: 14 (Australian Open 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016; French Open 2016; Wimbledon 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018; U.S. Open 2011, 2015, 2018)
2018 Australian Open performance: Fourth round
Best Australian Open performance: Winner (six times)
Road to final:
First round: beat Mitchell Krueger (U.S.) 6-3 6-2 6-2
Second round: beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) 6-3 7-5 6-4
Third round: beat 25-Denis Shapovalov (Canada) 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-0
Fourth round: beat 15-Daniil Medvedev (Russia) 6-4 6-7(5) 6-2 6-3
Quarter-finals: beat 8-Kei Nishikori (Japan) 6-1 4-1 (retired)
Semi-finals: beat 28-Lucas Pouille (France) 6-0 6-2 6-2
Djokovic failed to make the semi-finals at Melbourne in the past two years hampered by an elbow issue, but has returned to his best and is a favorite for a seventh title in Melbourne.
The Serb, who has won the last two Grand Slams following a spectacular return to form last year, has continued to quell all challengers in his path in the season’s first major.
Bidding for his 15th Grand Slam title, Djokovic will meet Nadal seven years after edging him in a five hour 53-minute marathon at Melbourne Park, the longest Slam final on record.
The Serb has enjoyed their most recent exchange too, having beaten Nadal in five sets in the Wimbledon semi-finals last year, and will look to wear down his biggest rival again.
Head-to-head (Djokovic 27 – Nadal 25)
Last five meetings:
2018 Djokovic beat Nadal 6-4 3-6 7-6(9) 3-6 10-8 (Wimbledon, grass)
2018 Nadal beat Djokovic 7-6(4) 6-3 (Rome, clay)
2017 Nadal beat Djokovic 6-2 6-4 (Madrid, clay)
2016 Djokovic beat Nadal 7-5 7-6(4) (Rome, clay)
2016 Djokovic beat Nadal 7-6(5) 6-2 (Indian wells, hard)
Compiled by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty