Rafael Nadal’s Keys to Victory Against Novak Djokovic at Australian Open

Photo by Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia

(Press Association) – Rafael Nadal will hope his new aggressive approach can earn him Australian Open revenge against Novak Djokovic seven years on from their first final in Melbourne.

In 2012, it was Djokovic who finally came out on top after five sets, and five hours and 53 minutes, making it the longest grand slam final in history.

Both men have spent only just over double that time on court in their six matches so far this fortnight, but it has been Rafa’s uncharacteristic efficiency that has really caught the eye.

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.

“Today I have to adapt my game to the new time and to my age,” said Rafa. “I know during 15, 16, 17 years of tennis, I’m going to lose things on my way, so I need to add new things.

“That’s what I tried to do during all my career, to improve the things that I can improve.”

The new serve has allowed Rafa to pounce on opponents from the start of a rally and he has been ruthless. The Spaniard leads the tournament in terms of service games won and has not been broken since his first-round victory over James Duckworth.

Coach Carlos Moya, who replaced Toni Nadal at the start of last season, has been the main driving force behind the changes, with the former world number one seeing them as essential to prolong his countryman’s career.

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

“I’ve been watching the match they played here (in 2012), six hours. I think he has to avoid that. Not only for the final but also what it takes to recover from that and the risk of injury.

“We know to play short points against Novak is not easy, because he’s one of the best movers on the tour and one of the best returners, but to me (Rafa) has the weapons to make the points shorter.”

Nadal and Djokovic have played each other more times than any two men in the Open era, with Sunday their 53rd tour-level meeting.

Djokovic leads 27-25 overall but on hard courts the statistics are even more in the Serbian’s favour. Rafa has lost eight straight matches dating back to the US Open final in 2013, while he also lost their last meeting, another titanic scrap in the Wimbledon semi-finals last summer.

“Obviously it’s the most challenging match he can have,” said Moya. “Mentally he has an edge when he plays any player, but not with Novak.

“I think these kind of matches come down to three or four points, like happened in Wimbledon. That day, most of these important points went Novak’s side. Here, if some of those points go our side, I believe (Nadal) will have the chance to win.”

Rafa’s form has not gone unnoticed by Djokovic, who said: “He has improved his serve. I see he has a slightly different service motion that has worked very well.

“With everything he possesses, all the qualities in his game, adding to that also a lot of free points on the serve makes him much tougher to play against.

“At the same time, it’s quite different playing against me, me against him. I think it adds more pressure on his serve and my serve, as well, because we return well. We’ve been playing well. It’s going to be interesting.”

History will be on the line, with Djokovic looking to become the first man to win seven Australian Open titles and Nadal the first in the Open era, and only the third in history, to win all four slams at least twice.

But for the two men, the battle of wills, strokes, lungs and heart appears to matter more than anything.

“We push each other to the limit of our tennis level,” said Rafa. “I found solutions against Novak during all my career, and he found solutions against me.

“It’s always about moments. In his best moments, he’s so difficult to beat. In my best moments, I have been a tough opponent, too.”

Source: Press Association

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14 comments

  1. rafa just put long and deep balls ….dont give short ball and mix it up …rest u know how to win against nole

    novak has only one plan he is difficul to play because he delivers long deep balls from baseline consitently so opponent finds hard…..if some one play deep long against him and can move him around the court he finds difficult

    vamos rafa

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  2. VAMOS SWEETHEART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) YOU ARE BRILLIANT AND YOU DO HAVE AN EDGE OVER N…….OF COURSE YOU DO OVER THE YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) NOT SURE WHAT THE FUCK NONSENSE MOYEE RUBBISHING AROUND AND WHAT IRRESPONSIBLE COMMENTS HE MAKES……DREADFUL! WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIS SMALL EGO? HE HAS NO BUSINESS TALKING CARELESSLY, FOOLISHLY AND TALKING TOO MUCH ! HE IS MAKING NO SENSE ESPECIALLY PRIOR TO GS MATCH……..THE REST OF YOUR TEAM WITH UNCLE TONY, ARE, AND ALWAYS WERE THERE WITH POSITIVE, CONCRETE SENSIBILITY AND NEVER TRIED TO BRAG ABOUT WHAT THEY OFFER YOU ETC…..HE IS NO MATCH FOR THE REST OF YOUR TEAM SWEETHEART……..WHAT YOU HAVE SWEETHEART BELONGS TO YOU AND YOUR LONG TIME EFFORTS……………THIS GUY IS SMALL AND OUGHT NOT BE TALKING TO THE PRESS.ABOUT NOTHING.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : )
    VAMOS SWEETHEART…..KEEP GOING…….YOU ALWAYS PLAYED AGGRESSIVE….FORCEFULLY, AND YOUR SERVE WAS ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL AND EFFECTIVE AND EVER EVOLVING OVER THE YEARS……….SO MAKES NO SENSE THIS MOYEE AND HE IS HE IS TRYING TO TAKE CREDIT FOR YOUR BLESSED BRILLIANT TENNIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) I NEVER LIKED HIM BECAUSE HE IS CONCERNED WITH HIMSELF. FROM NOW ON KEEP MOYEE INTERVIEWS MUTE.
    THE REST OF YOUR PRECIOUS TEAM, THE TEAM ARE RIGHT THERE, WITH YOU. LOYAL, MODEST. POWERFUL AND NO BS STATEMENTS THAT ARE SENSELESS AND TRACKLESS.

    VAMOS SWEETHEART….GO OUT THERE AND HAVE FUN AND KNOW YOU DO HAVE AN EDGE AND A VERY STRONG HOLD ON N……..HE KNOWS WHO YOU ARE BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE GOODS. YOU HAVE THE ENDURANCE. YOU HAVE THE CLASSY, FEISTY AGGRESSIVE POWER. YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL EFFECTIVE SERVE. YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL PRESENCE COMMANDING AND REACHING AND STRIDING AND THRIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: ) : ) : ) : ) : ) ; ) : ) YOU OWN THE NET MAGIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) GO RAFA GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) ABOVE ALL, YOU HAVE THE FANS AND THE CROWD LOVING YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING SWEETHEART AND KEEP ENJOYING YOUR FUN AND YOUR PRECIOUS INSTINCTS AND BEAUTIFUL DRIVE AND PASSION. WE LOVE YOU AND WILL BE THERE ENJOYING EACH POINT WITH YOU LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) LETS GO RAFA LETS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) LOVE YOU SWEETHEART AND SENDING LOTS OF LOVE AND HAPPINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) KEEP SMILING SWEETHEART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) LISTEN TO ROIG AND TO YOUR OWN INSIGHTS. HAVE A BEAUTIFUL AFTERNOON AND ENJOY LOTS AND LOTS OF FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

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  3. Rafa te deseo mucha suerte el Domingo tu puedes con la ayuda De Dios y Los Angeles que te cuiden y te guíen siempre con mucha salud. Vamos Rafa tu puedes.
    Tu fan siempre
    Carmen

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  4. Rafa , it was a real pleasure and fun to see you return in such a magical way : Tennis is only exciting for me when you are around ! Go and get what is rightly yours tomorrow !! Best of luck !

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  5. Rafa you have played him enough times to know where his weakness is and you have improved in so many levels that he has not. He is playing the same way and you have improved on your play which is just AMAZING. anyhow you can beat him just out think him play short strokes and get to the net often and spike it when you get to the net. serve him blind I mean ace him and focus ,focus ,focus on your talent and on each and every point. Break his serve and don’t let him make the play long . Make the play short and swift and unreachable for him. and if the stroke is going to be long make Him do all the running don’t wear yourself out wear him out. I believe in you and you can win this one. Let him know who’s King on that court and that is you .
    Best of luck you have the talent now show him how to play tennis and be ruthless out there. You are the Matador so play him and strike like you mean business.
    love ya
    your favorite fan
    Kathie

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  6. Saw the glimpse of djoker’s semi final again today. He is not playing extraordinary tennis. Don’t understand what’s all this hype about. His semi and quarter finals were like first round matches. I know he will try to bring out his best against Rafa. But the beast Rafa is now, there is no stopping for him. Vamos 💪💪💪

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    • Rafan, because they are going by numbers, not by the here and now. Let them hype all they want.

      RAFA GORES DJOKOVIC will be the headlines.

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      • You wish..Margo. You wish.

        Heads or tail; it will always be Novak.
        I say Novak for the win: 6-7. 7_5. 7-5. 6-2

        Like

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