Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic
|Date & Time||Sunday January 27, 2019, 3:30 AM (EST)|
The Line: Djokovic -120 / Nadal +100 -- Over/Under:
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic meet in the final of the 2019 tennis Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal is coming off a straight sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas that took 24 games to decide. In the victory, Nadal won 85 percent of his first serve points and 71 percent of his second serve points. Nadal won 80 percent of his total service points and produced six breaks on 11 break points. Nadal has yet to drop a set this tournament and has played a little over three hours in his last two matches combined, so added with the extra day of rest, the Spaniard is as fresh as you can be for a grand slam final. As long as Nadal is as consistent with his serve as he’s been in this tournament, he’s got a real to win his fourth grand slam since 2017. Nadal hopes to win his 18th career grand slam and second (2009) at the Australian Open. Nadal is 7-2 in his last nine grand slam final appearances, but he’s just 1-3 in final appearances at the Australian Open. In final appearances overall, Nadal has won 11 of his last 12, but he is just 19-25 on hard court for his career. Nadal has won 16 of his last 18 matches on hard court.
Novak Djokovic is coming off a straight sets win over Lucas Pouille that took 22 games to decide. In the victory, Djokovic won 84 percent of his first serve points and 87 percent of his second serve points. Djokovic won 85 percent of his total service points and produced seven breaks on 12 break points. Djokovic has lost just two sets this tournament and has played barely a combined two hours in his last two matches. There’s nothing you can say about Djokovic and his performances that hasn’t been said already, as he was the favorite before the tournament and has done nothing to change those odds. Djokovic hopes to win his 15th career grand slam and seventh at the Australian Open. Djokovic has won six of his last seven grand slam final appearances, and he’s won all six of his final matches at the Australian Open. In final appearances overall, Djokovic has split his last 12, and he’s 54-19 on hard court for his carer. Djokovic has won 10 of his last 11 matches on hard court.
These two have played 52 times and Djokovic has won 27 of those meetings. The most recent match was in the 2018 Wimbledon, a match Djokovic won in five sets. Djokovic has won 12 of the last 15 meetings against Nadal and hasn’t lost to him on any surface outside of clay since the 2013 US Open. That’s seven straight wins for Djokovic over Nadal on any form of hard court. However, Nadal is 9-5 against Djokovic in grand slam matches. Nine of the last 10 meetings between Djokovic and Nadal have been decided in straight sets.
It’s clear Djokovic should be the favorite for this title, as he’s never lost an Australian Open match as the No. 1 seed and has owned Nadal in recent matches. Djokovic has won 12 of the last 15 matches and hasn’t lost to Nadal on hard court in nearly six years. The safe pick is with Djokovic and I can’t argue against it. However, in terms of value, I’m going to back Nadal in this contest. Nadal has been highly efficient in his matches and is actually the more rested player considering he hasn’t dropped a set and has had an extra day of rest. Nadal is probably more rested for this final than he’s ever been in a grand slam. Nadal has his serve working at an elite level, and that’s always the difference that puts him in another class, as you know his defensive effort is always showing up. In fact, Nadal is serving faster than he has in quite some time and is hitting the same amount of aces he was many years ago.
This is a complete toss-up in my eyes despite the recent one-sided history. And as I previously said, Djokovic is the safe play. However, in terms of even money and with the form Nadal is in along with the rest advantage, I’m going to back the Spaniard. The value is too good to pass up.