Djokovic demolishes Pouille to set up Nadal final

Novak Djokovic (AP)
Novak Djokovic (AP)

Melbourne - Novak Djokovic on Friday continued his quest for a record seventh Australian Open crown by swatting aside French 28th seed Lucas Pouille 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 to set up a final against Rafael Nadal.

It was a flawless display on Rod Laver Arena by the world number one who moves into a first Melbourne decider since 2016. 

"It is definitely one of the best matches I've ever had on this court, definitely," said Djokovic, who hit 24 winners and had just five unforced errors

"You know, everything worked the way I imagined it before the match and even more so. 

"Tough one for Lucas, but he had a great tournament, and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season," he added.

Djokovic lost in the fourth round last year, followed by elbow surgery and poor form until he won Wimbledon and turned his season around.

"It was highly unlikely 12 months ago that I would be where I am today, a year later," said the Serbian top seed. 

"But I've said it before, and I always have plenty of belief in myself, and I think the self-belief is something that always prevails."

Djokovic will face second seed Nadal in a 53rd career meeting and eighth in the final of a Slam.

In 2012 the pair contested the longest Grand Slam final in terms of time at the Australian Open when Djokovic edged an epic battle 7-5 in the fifth set after 5 hours 53 minutes.

Djokovic, in his 34th Grand Slam semi-final, took just 83 minutes to outclass his regular practice partner Pouille, who was appearing in his first.

The 14-time Grand Slam title winner was fresh because quarter-final opponent Kei Nishikori had quit after 51 minutes and he jumped all over the world number 31 right from the start.

Djokovic was in total control against the Frenchman who had needed more than three hours to see off Milos Raonic in the last eight.

The Serb ran Pouille ragged so effectively that he dished out a dreaded 6-0 "bagel" in a first set that lasted just 21 minutes.

Pouille held his first service game of the second set to a huge ovation from the centre court fans, but it was a brief respite as Djokovic, a picture of precision on serve and return, would not allow him any chance to get back into the match.

Pouille's coach Amelie Mauresmo, who won the Australian Open women's singles in 2006, could only look on helplessly as Djokovic broke at the next opportunity and raced to the second set. 

On Thursday Nadal had allowed his young Greek opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas to win just six games on the way to the final in an hour and 46 minutes.

Djokovic made that look pedestrian, allowing Pouille only four games and taking 23 minutes less to reach his first Melbourne final since 2016, when he won his sixth title.

Nadal holds a 4-3 win-loss record against Djokovic in Grand Slam finals, including all three meetings since their Melbourne Park marathon seven years ago, and both players are chasing milestones on Sunday.

A win for Nadal will see him become the first player in the Open era to win all four Grand Slam titles twice, while victory for Djokovic will take him clear of six-time Melbourne winners Roger Federer and Roy Emerson.

Head-to-head record for Sunday's Australian Open men's final after Novak Djokovic beat Lucas Pouille in the last four to set up a decider against Rafael Nadal (year, tournament, surface, round, winner, result):

Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) v Rafael Nadal (ESP x2)

Djokovic leads 27-25

2018 Wimbledon - Grass SF Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (11/9), 3-6, 10-8

2018 Rome - Clay  SF Nadal 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

2017 Madrid - Clay  SF Nadal 6-2, 6-4

2016 Rome - Clay  QF Djokovic 7-5, 7-6 (7/4)

2016 Indian Wells - Hard  SF Djokovic 7-6 (7/5), 6-2

2016 Doha - Hard  F  Djokovic 6-1, 6-2

2015 London - Hard  SF Djokovic 6-3, 6-3

2015 Beijing - Hard  F  Djokovic 6-2, 6-2

2015 French Open - Clay  QF Djokovic 7-5, 6-3, 6-1

2015 Monaco - Clay  SF Djokovic 6-3, 6-3

2014 French Open - Clay  F  Nadal 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4

2014 Rome - Clay  F  Djokovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 

2014 Miami - Hard  F  Djokovic 6-3, 6-3 

2013 London - Hard  F  Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 

2013 Beijing - Hard  F  Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 

2013 US Open - Hard  F  Nadal 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 

2013 Montreal - Hard  SF Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2) 

2013 French Open - Clay  SF Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 9-7 

2013 Monte Carlo - Clay  F  Djokovic 6-2, 7-6 (7/1) 

2012 French Open - Clay  F  Nadal 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 

2012 Rome - Clay  F  Nadal 7-5, 6-3

2012 Monte Carlo - Clay  F  Nadal 6-3, 6-1

2012 Australian Open - Hard  F  Djokovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 

2011 US Open - Hard  F  Djokovic 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-1 

2011 Wimbledon - Grass F  Djokovic 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 

2011 Rome - Clay  F  Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 

2011 Madrid - Clay  F  Djokovic 7-5, 6-4 

2011 Miami - Hard  F  Djokovic 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) 

2011 Indian Wells - Hard  F  Djokovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 

2010 London - Hard  RR Nadal 7-5, 6-2 

2010 US Open - Hard  F  Nadal 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 

2009 London - Hard  RR Djokovic 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 

2009 Paris - Hard  SF Djokovic 6-2, 6-3 

2009 Cincinnati - Hard  SF Djokovic 6-1, 6-4

2009 Madrid - Clay  SF Nadal 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (11/9)

2009 Rome - Clay  F  Nadal 7-6 (7/2), 6-2  

2009 Monte Carlo - Clay  F  Nadal 6-3, 2-6, 6-1

2009 Davis Cup - Clay  RR Nadal 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 

2008 Beijing Olympics - Hard  SF Nadal 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 

2008 Cincinnati - Hard  SF Djokovic 6-1, 7-5  

2008 Queen's Club - Grass F  Nadal 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 

2008 French Open - Clay  SF Nadal 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) 

2008 Hamburg - Clay  SF Nadal 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 

2008 Indian Wells - Hard  SF Djokovic 6-3, 6-2 

2007 Shanghai - Hard  RR Nadal 6-4, 6-4 

2007 Montreal - Hard  SF Djokovic 7-5, 6-3

2007 Wimbledon - Grass SF Nadal 3-6, 6-1, 4-1 - retired  

2007 French Open - Clay  SF Nadal 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 

2007 Rome - Clay  QF Nadal 6-2, 6-3 

2007 Miami - Hard  QF Djokovic 6-3, 6-4

2007 Indian Wells - Hard  F  Nadal 6-2, 7-5

2006 French Open - Clay  QF Nadal 6-4, 6-4 - retired

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