Novak Djokovic routs Rafael Nadal to win seventh Australian Open title

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the Australian Open title against Spain’s Rafael Nadal on Sunday, January 27. (Reuters)
Updated 27 January 2019
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Novak Djokovic routs Rafael Nadal to win seventh Australian Open title

  • The Serbian world number one dominated the Spanish second seed to win his 15th Grand Slam title
  • Victory extended Djokovic’s win-loss record against Nadal to 28-25

MELBOURNE: An imperious Novak Djokovic won a record magnificent seventh Australian Open title by routing Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 Sunday with a display of flawless tennis.
The Serbian world number one dominated the Spanish second seed to win his 15th Grand Slam title in just 2hr 4min on Rod Laver Arena.
It put Djokovic, 31, out on his own ahead of Roger Federer and Roy Emerson, who both won six Australian Open men’s singles titles.
Djokovic dropped to the court and kissed the ground after vanquishing his greatest rival.
No two men have met more often in the Open Era, this was their 53rd meeting, and no pair have pushed one another harder or further.
Their only previous final in Australia, in 2012, developed into a record-breaking 5hr 53min slugfest — the longest in Grand Slam history.
A repeat of that epic never materialized with Nadal uncharacteristically nervous at the start and Djokovic taking immediate advantage.
The Spaniard had not had his service broken since the third set of his first round match but that streak ended in a flash as the Serb came sprinting out of the blocks.
Djokovic was in imperious control on his own delivery and won his first four service games without conceding a single point, even inducing Nadal to miss a forehand completely on the way to grabbing the set in 36 minutes.
The second set followed a similar pattern, with Djokovic racing through games on his own serve, while Nadal struggled to hold.
The pressure told in the fifth game and Djokovic broke again when Nadal hit a lob volley long after an exchange at the net.
Djokovic had only conceded two points on serve in the entire match to this point but Nadal had his first sniff at breaking when he got to 30-15 ahead and deuce, twice.
Djokovic had to withstand pressure for the first time in the match, overcoming the threat with a roar and a fist pump to go 4-2 ahead.
The on-song Serb was so fired up he came straight out and broke Nadal again to go to 5-2 before serving out for a two-set lead with three aces in a row with just 1hr 16min on the clock.
The statistics were as telling as the scoreline: Djokovic had served eight aces to Nadal’s one and made just four unforced errors while the Spaniard had coughed up 20.
When Djokovic broke again in the third game of the third set it was just a matter of how quickly he would finish off Nadal.
The end was swift, as Djokovic withstood one break point at 3-2 before administering the last rites in a flurry of winners off both wings.
Victory extended his win-loss record against Nadal to 28-25 and squared the Grand Slam final count between the pair at 4-4.
Djokovic has now completed a hat-trick of Slams following his wins at Wimbledon and the US Open.
He will go to Paris in May for the French Open seeking to become the only man in the Open Era to win all four majors twice.


Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

Updated 34 min 17 sec ago
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Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

  • Proposal will be made at the federation’s general assembly next week

MADRID: The Spanish soccer federation is looking into the possibility of playing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia beginning next year.

Federation President Luis Rubiales said Wednesday playing in the Middle East is one of the options being considered for the tournament, as well as a “final four” format with the top finishers in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey.

The competition has been played in a one-game final between the champions at the beginning of the season. The idea is to play the new Super Cup in January.

The proposal will be made during the federation’s general assembly next week.

Rubiales did not confirm reports the deal will be worth €30 million ($33 million) a year for six seasons, saying “it will be difficult” to reach that value.

The federation president, one of the main critics of the Spanish league’s idea to play a regular-season match in the US, said the decision would take into consideration the players’ health, noting that playing in Saudi Arabia would not affect them as much as if the game was played in the US or Asia, where travel time and time differences were greater. Last year’s final, won by Barcelona against Sevilla, was played in Tangier, Morocco.

This year’s Italian Super Cup was played in Saudi Arabia as part of a multi-year deal worth more than €20 million ($22 million).  The Spanish players’ association, which complained about the Spanish league’s attempt to play in the US, did not oppose the idea of playing in Saudi Arabia.

“We weren’t against playing in the United States, what we wanted at the time was to be consulted about the idea and to give our opinion,” association president David Aganzo said Wednesday at an event organized by Europa Press. “If the proposal for the Super Cup is good for the players, we won’t have a problem with it.”

The Spanish league had to scrap the game in Florida after Barcelona, which would have faced Girona, backed down because of the lack of consensus among the parties involved. The league said it will try playing abroad again next season.

There is also a plan by the federation to reduce the number of games in the Copa del Rey to help clear up the calendar and keep teams from playing too many matches. The competition would include single elimination matches in some rounds, instead of a two-leg series. The proposal is also expected to be presented in next week’s general assembly.

“The clubs and the players want less official matches in the calendar,” Rubiales said.