Novak Djokovic will attempt to retain his Australian Open title over the next fortnight – a year after he thrashed Rafael Nadal in the 2019 final. On that day the Serbian bossed the match from start to finish with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory.
The difference in quality on the day was so great the world No 2 rates it as his greatest ever final – even above the epic Wimbledon clash with Roger Federer.
Djokovic was forced to save two match points at the All England Club as the pair went the distance and required a fifth-set Championship tiebreak to settle it.
But that blockbuster bout – dubbed the greatest ever Wimbledon final – cannot claim top spot in Djokovic’s personal highlight reel.
“That was probably the best performance I have had in the finals of any Grand Slam in my career,” Djokovic said of his win over Nadal.
“I had some thrilling, exciting matches. Probably two of the most exciting finals I have been part of have been here in 2012 and that almost went six hours, the record for the longest ever finals in history.
“And then against Roger last year at Wimbledon, obviously another five-setter.
“But in terms of performance and quality of tennis, last year’s [Australian Open] final was probably the best one I had.
“Rafa was in great form. He hadn’t dropped a set the entire tournament.
“You know, the way I was playing was just amazing. I was very proud and obviously I have been trying to remember that and kind of relive those memories.”
Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have amassed 55 Grand Slam titles between them and are once again the favourites at the Australian Open.
The trio have dominated men’s tennis for well over a decade and Djokovic feels their rivalry has driven them each to greater heights.
“We have helped each other evolve a lot as players, and I think on and off the court as well, to understand how we could get better,” the 32-year-old added.
“What are the things that can improve so we face each other often? We can be the best versions of ourselves so we can pull out the best quality tennis we can possibly have.
“That’s what it takes to win against each other because we always require the best tennis from each other.
“I think the intensity and the anticipation before the match just obliges us in a way to keep it up because otherwise we’re going to lose a match.
“I think the rivalry has been pretty special between the three of us and has brought us to these tennis heights we’re at at the moment.
“And I think we still look at each other’s games, at each other’s careers, and we still measure each other’s careers comparing to the other guys.”