Djoker’s cocky Nadal confession
A CHEEKY reveal from 14-time grand slam king Novak Djokovic has put into perspective just how dominant tennis's top male stars are, on the eve of yet another finals showdown between the Serb and Rafael Nadal.
As we saw clear as day in this week's run of semi-finals, the highly anticipated "next gen" of tennis stars is still chasing its tail in search of an opening to topple the modern-day greats.
The numbers simply don't lie. Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have laid waste to countless rising tennis stars, winning 50 of the past 60 grand slams between them.
Presenting a level of sheer domination unknown to most sporting arenas, it'd be impossible for tennis's big three to not have slightly big heads.
One could argue Djokovic - a man who has reigned supreme at Melbourne Park six times in 11 years - had earned a right to be arrogant going into his seventh Aussie Open semi-final against Frenchman Lucas Pouille.
In a surprise to very few on the tennis circuit, the Serb minced his 24-year-old opponent - who enjoyed a dogged rise to his first grand slam semi - in straight sets 6-0 6-2 6-2.
The world No.1 later admitted his biggest opponent of the match was not Pouille, but Nadal.
In an interview for the official Australian Open website, Djokovic unashamedly confessed he was looking to concede less games than the Spaniard in his respective semi against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
"Yes. It was hard to do that, but somehow (I) managed," a smiling Djokovic said.
"He has played impressively well throughout the entire tournament. He hasn't dropped a set. He looked as good as ever on the hard court throughout these few weeks.
"I haven't played bad myself last couple matches. I think that this finals comes at the right time for both of us. I'm sure we're going to have a blast on the court."
Djokovic said the victory over Pouille was "one of my best matches on Rod Laver Arena".
"I've had some terrific matches, couple matches in a row where I would win comfortably in straight sets," he said.
"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."
Nadal, on the other hand, is out to reap sweet revenge over the Djoker, who downed him in a six-hour epic at the 2012 Australian Open final.
The pair have a longstanding rivalry that has captivated the sporting world for 13 years, with the Serb coming out an inch on top with 27 wins to Nadal's 25.
"He's my biggest rival in my career. I've played so many matches against him, epic matches on this court," Djokovic said.
"Of course, the one that stands out was the final of six hours almost in 2012. Hopefully we don't go that long this time, but I'm sure we're going to have a good finals."
For Djokovic, a seventh win at Melbourne Park would sit as an all-time record, trumping Federer's six titles.