Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Djokovic has sights on the 'ultimate challenge' of calendar Grand Slam

Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal has reinvented himself of late Credit Getty Images
Shannon Reynolds | 30 January, 2019, 23:29

Novak Djokovic claimed a record seventh Australian Open crown on Sunday as he demolished Rafa Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in his most dominant Grand Slam win in his long rivalry with the Spaniard.

Nadal won that meeting in four sets, nudging to a 4-3 lead in their Grand Slam finals count, but given his fitness issues and unremarkable record at recent hard-court Slams there was those who doubted the 32-year-old would get to Sunday's decider.

Calvert, the unparalleled analyst, has locked in three strong Nadal vs. Djokovic picks.

Djokovic will go to Paris in May for the French Open seeking to become the only man in the Open Era to win all four Majors twice and, with victory, would hold all four Majors at the same time for the second time in his career. "I am not new on this".

Moya said: "Since the first day I came on board, my main goal was to convince him that he could play more aggressive".

"I was doubting whether I will be able to play everyone on this level".

The world number one started his seventh Australian Open final just as he had left off against Lucas Pouille in the semifinals.

The 31-year-old Serbian, who has won every major since returning from elbow surgery, moved clear of six-time men's winners Roy Emerson and Roger Federer and leapfrogged American great Pete Sampras on the all-time list.

Djokovic made only nine unforced errors against a player he labelled as his "greatest rival", including just one in the second set, and on five occasions he broke the remodelled Nadal serve. He couldn't find the extra shot he needed in rallies to claw his way back into the match.

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"Playing Grand Slams, biggest ATP events, is my utmost priority in this season and in seasons to come..."

The foundation is a remodelled serve that he and his team honed during the final months of last season when he was sidelined through injury. "That's the sport", Nadal said.

Shortening points and being more aggressive had suited Nadal throughout the tournament but against Djokovic maybe it should have been to grind and lengthen the points whenever possible, by hitting down the centre. He dropped his head and looked down at the court.

"I'm trying to contemplate on the journey in the past 12 months", said Djokovic. "I might have figured him out for the match, but not for life".

They won the U.S. Open in 2015, Wimbledon in 2016 and the French Open in 2018.

"That´s my feeling, just keep playing the way that I am playing and, let´s see, expect to have one of those special days".

Reaching the final had been an unlikely proposition, and losing it in the circumstances was good progress.

"Unbelievable", said Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya. "That something else probably today, I don't have it yet.to compete at this super high level".

The aggressive game plan he had used all tournament failed him, and when he tried to use more net clearance and spin Djokovic had an answer for that too - step in and club the ball hard. As Jim Courier said in commentary as Djokovic breezed through the third set: "The wind is at back, literally and figuratively".

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