Novak Djokovic says facing Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open is “the kind of matches that you live for”.
Novak Djokovic is relishing a blockbuster Australian Open final against “greatest rival” Rafael Nadal after dispatching Lucas Pouille in “divine” fashion on Friday.
Djokovic made a huge statement at Rod Laver Arena, taking just an hour and 23 minutes to thrash Frenchman Pouille 6-0 6-2 6-2.
The world number one taught first-time major semi-finalist Pouille a harsh lesson at Melbourne Park, making only five unforced errors and losing just eight points on serve in a one-sided encounter.
Djokovic – bidding to become the first man to win the tournament seven times – rated his masterclass as one of the best performances of his career on the famous court.
“Considering the occasion and circumstances and playing semi-finals here, this is definitely one of the best matches I’ve played on Rod Laver Arena in my career.” said the top seed.
“You just happen to be in that zone that we all strive for. Every professional athlete wants to be in the zone, where everything flows so effortlessly, and you are executing automatically everything you are intending to execute.
“You don’t need to think too much. I guess you’re driven by some force that takes over you and you feel divine, you feel like in a different dimension. It’s quite an awesome feeling that we all try to reach and stay in.”
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The 14-time grand slam champion is expecting another almighty battle with the world number two, who he has only faced in Melbourne on that one incredible occasion seven years ago.
“Nadal has historically throughout my life and career been the greatest rival that I ever played against, on all the surfaces,” said the six-time champion.
“Some matches that we had against each other were a great turning point in my career. I feel they have made me rethink my game.
“I had some disappointing moments where I lost to him. I think I’ve lost to him nine times so far in the grand slams, and I lost some tough matches in finals and semis at the French Open and US Open. I won also some great matches.
“Those kind of encounters have also made me the player I am today, without a doubt. These are the kind of matches that you live for: finals of slams, playing the greatest rivals at their best. What more can you ask for? This is where you want to be.”