Australian Open 2012 – FINAL – Nole vs. Rafa (Sunday at 09:30 CET)!

Our champion Nole earned a shot at defending his Australian Open crown after defeating his friend Andy Murray in an epic semi-final marathon duel on Friday.

The world no.1, honoured with the highest distinction of the Serbian Church – the Order of St. Sava last April, beat Murray on St. Sava’s Day to advance to his third final in Melbourne.

The 24-year-old Serbian star gets the chance to extend his 2011 Grand Slam dominance when he faces no.2 seed Spaniard Rafael Nadal in tomorrow’s final.

“There is no secret it is going to be physical again,” Nole said. “I will do my best to recover. I have a day and a half. I will try to get as much sleep as possible and my recovery programme under way and hope for the best. That’s going to be crucial, for me to recover and to be able to perform my best, because Rafa is fit. He’s been playing well. He had an extra day. He definitely wants to win this title. If I am able to do that, then I can believe that I can win.”

Nadal leads 16-13 in overall head to head, but in 2011 Djokovic won all six finals they contested, two of them in Grand Slam events (Wimbledon and US Open) and four in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome).

“I know that I maybe have a mental edge because I’ve won six finals in 2011 and I’ve had lots of success against him,” Nole said. “On the other hand, it’s a new year. It’s a new challenge. It’s a different situation. He has a day advantage over me for recovery and for getting ready for the finals.”

It will be their third straight showdown for a major title.

Novak is aiming to be only the fifth man since the Open Era started in 1968 to win three straight majors — only Laver, Sampras, Federer and Nadal have achieved it, with only Laver going on to complete the Grand Slam.

He is also looking to join Agassi, Federer and Wilander as only players in Open Era to win 3 and more Australian Open trophies.

Good luck Nole!

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