Djokovic destroys Pouille to set up Nadal showdown

Saturday, 26 January 2019 00:42 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts after winning the match against France’s Lucas Pouille - REUTERS



Melbourne (Reuters): A rampant Novak Djokovic completed a stunning 6-0 6-2 6-2 demolition of Lucas Pouille on Friday to storm into his seventh Australian Open final and set up a mouth-watering title match with Rafa Nadal.

The six-time champion was at his devastating best in the one hour and 23 minute procession as he gave the hapless Pouille a brutal lesson in Grand Slam tennis and extended his perfect semi-finals record to 7-0 at Melbourne Park.

A day after second seed Nadal conceded only six games to 20-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in their one-sided semi-final, Djokovic continued the next generation smack-down by coughing up only four.

Attacking the lines with machine-like precision, he broke the 28th-seeded Frenchman seven times yet never looked in danger of conceding a break point.

He struggled to remember whether he had played any better in his previous Melbourne semi-finals.

 “It’s definitely one of the best matches I have ever had on this court, definitely. Everything worked the way I intended before the match,” said Djokovic, after Pouille netted meekly on a second match point. The score would suggest it was Djokovic’s most dominant semi, just edging the 6-2 6-2 6-1 humiliation of David Ferrer in the 2013 tournament.

Only five unforced errors came off his racket, 22 fewer than Pouille’s haul.

Bidding for his 15th Grand Slam title and a record seventh at Melbourne Park, Djokovic will meet Nadal in Sunday’s final seven years after edging him in a five hour 53-minute epic, the longest Grand Slam final on record.

“I would definitely want to buy the ticket for the match, for those who haven’t yet,” Djokovic quipped in his on-court interview. “That (2012 final) was a once in a life-time event and hopefully the outcome will be the same for me.”

Before he and Pouille entered the court on Friday, all the signs pointed to a comfortable Djokovic win.

His quarter-final against Kei Nishikori lasted only 52 minutes before the 29-year-old Japanese retired, while Pouille slogged through more than three hours against Milos Raonic.

The Serb was unbeaten by Frenchmen in 27 previous matches at the Grand Slams, his last defeat coming against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2010 quarter-finals in Melbourne.