MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic was as perfect as he could be in his semi-final at the Rod Laver Arena. I did not miss much. I could hardly, really.
It was a performance so flawless, so fantastic that it was easy to feel as if only one person on the planet could have a chance to prevent Djokovic from claiming a record seventh Australian title: Rafael Nadal. As it happens, this is the person he will face on Sunday.
Djokovic never gave up, not for a moment, making a total of five casual mistakes against the overtaken Lucas Puil on the way to a semi-final win with 6: 0, 6: 2, 6: 2, which lasted for less than half an hour.
"I guess you are moving from some force that conquers and feels divine. You feel in a different dimension, "Djokovic said. "It's a pretty great feeling that we're all trying to reach and stay. Probably the biggest challenge, I think, is how to repeat how to stay there for as long as possible."
It was as good as he. How much.
"When you play that way," said the 28th Ambassador Puil, "yes, he is the best in the world, for sure."
Now Djokovic will face his old rival, Nadal, for the 53rd tour of the tour, eighth in the Grand Slam final.
He will be the first to be Djokovic – owner of 14 Grand Slam titles including the last two – against Nadal No. 2, who won 17 majors. Roger Federer, 20, is the only person whose total amount is higher.
"I would definitely like to buy a ticket," Djokovic told the crowd.
He holds a 27-25 edge over Nadal in the series from head to head; Nadal heads 4-3 in the helm final. The only other time they met with the Australian Open trophy on the line in 2012, Djokovic won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in 5 hours, 53 minutes, this is the longest match of the Grand Slam title in history.
"The experience" once in a lifetime, "says Djokovic," and I hope the result can be the same for me. "
Given how well they both are playing right now, this showdown is shaping up as another potential classic.
"Raffa," said Puil, "seems unbelievable.
In fact, Nadal was superb as he beat Stephanos Civizas with 6: 2, 6: 4, 6: 0 on Thursday night and still failed to give up the tournament while looking for his second title in Melbourne.
A day later, Djokovic played as though he was about to say, "Everything you can do, I can do better."
This was the 34th semi-final of Djokovic's big helmet and he won his last 10. Puil, a 24-year-old Frenchman, coach of former wife No 1 Amelie Moreres, debuted at this stage.
The plan explained by Puill then is to try to be an aggressor and take the points.
So much for that.
"I was trying to find a solution, but I could not find it," Puil said. "I could not put a strategy."
The wide gap in experience and achievement was revealed in a cloudy, cool night after Djokovic improved to 7-0 in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.
He is also unbeaten in the Australian Open finals, sharing the men's six-titles with Roy Emerson and Federer.
"It all works the way I imagined it before the game," Djokovic said. – And even more.
Except for a clash he took when he slipped while trying to change direction, what exactly did not happen to Djokovic on Friday?
He won 25 out of 34 points in Poouil's second service and shattered the man seven times.
He has won 45 of 53 points that has served without having any chance of rest.
He even managed to deliver a second service.
It was remarkable that he made so few mistakes as he took the chance to win 24 winners.
Pawail needed more than half an hour to take only one game, and the audience roared, perhaps relieved by the prospect of more competitive, not to mention a longer coincidence.
It never materialized.
This is far from the Australian Open 2018, when Djokovic lost in the fourth round while dealing with pain in his right elbow.
Soon after, he had surgery. Then the ascent started back to the top.
"Twelve months ago I was very unlikely to be where I am today, a year later," Djokovic said. "I've said it before, but I always have a lot of faith in myself, and self-confidence always has an edge."
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