Novak Djokovic beats Lucas Pouille to set up Rafael Nadal final

Novak Djokovic beats Lucas Pouille 6-0 6-2 6-2 to set up Rafael Nadal final in the Australia Open
Novak Djokovic beats Lucas Pouille 6-0 6-2 6-2 to set up Rafael Nadal final in the Australia Open

Top seed Novak Djokovic set up a tantalising Australian Open final against Rafael Nadal by thrashing Lucas Pouille in a one-sided semi-final.

The Serb, 31, needed just one hour and 23 minutes to win 6-0 6-2 6-2.

Djokovic broke serve seven times as he outclassed 24-year-old Frenchman Pouille, seeded 28th and in his first Grand Slam semi-final.

Djokovic and Spaniard Nadal – who have 31 Grand Slams titles between them – meet on Sunday.

The world number one set up their first meeting in Melbourne since their epic six-hour final in 2012 – which the Serb eventually won – with a near flawless performance against Pouille.

He made just five unforced errors and hit 29 winners on Rod Laver Arena.

“It is definitely one of the best matches I’ve ever had on this court,” said the 14-time major winner.

“Everything worked how I imagined it before the match – it was a tough one for Lucas.”

Djokovic, is aiming for a seventh Australian Open crown, which would move him clear of Roy Emerson and Roger Federer in terms of all-time victories in Melbourne.

Nadal, who would trail Federer by two if he wins his 18th major, could become the first man to claim a second career Grand Slam in the Open era.

Dominant Djokovic sets tone from the start

Djokovic was competing in his 34th Grand Slam semi-final – a record bettered only by Switzerland’s Federer – against a player who had never won a main-draw match at Melbourne in his five previous visits.

Although the pair had not met in a competitive match, they knew each other’s game because they have been regular practice partners in recent years.

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Unfortunately for Pouille, and those who had paid up to about £400 for a ticket, the second semi-final proved to be little more than a practice match for the world number one.

Pouille saw his serve come under immediate pressure in the second game, lumping a forehand long and then dumping another into the net to give Djokovic two break points.

Although he saved both – the second with a 127mph ace out wide – Djokovic earned a third chance after outlasting him in a long rally to knock an inch-perfect forehand down the line.

This time Pouille buckled and handed over the advantage with a double fault.

That set the tone for an opener which Djokovic completely dominated.

Pouille’s first serve was down at 46%, allowing Djokovic to dismantle his second serve and win 77% of those points on his way to claiming 28 points compared to Pouille’s 12 in the first set.

Djokovic also only made one unforced error, hitting 11 winners, as his 10th straight victory in a Grand Slam semi-final looked inevitable.

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