Novak Djokovic admits it’s impossible to ignore the high stakes at play as he sets himself for a fourth Australian Open final showdown with Andy Murray.
With victories over the Scot in 2011, 2013 and 2015, plus triumphs over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008 and Rafael Nadal in 2012, Djokovic stands to become the first man to reign six times at the season’s first grand slam event.
The reigning Australian, Wimbledon and US Open champion also has the chance to join all-time greats Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver as an 11-times major winner.
The 28-year-old is making no secret of the fact he’s motivated by such opportunities.
“It’s a possibility for me to make history, which is of course another great imperative for me for tomorrow’s match,” Djokovic said on Saturday.
“These are the kind of matches that you work for.
“These are the kind of occasions that define you as a tennis player.
“I’ll try to do my best obviously and get my hands on that trophy again.”
In the form of his life, Djokovic is a hot favourite.
Born a week apart, the Serbian world No.1 has dominated his rivalry with the Scottish world No.2, leading 21-9 head-to-head, 6-2 at grand slam level and winning 10 of their past 11 matches.
But he is expecting Murray to again push him to the limit, just as the second seed did last year when Djokovic complained of enduring a “physical crisis” during his four-set final triumph at Melbourne Park.
“I’m expecting a battle with Andy, as it always is – a very physically demanding match; lots of rallies, exchanges,” Djokovic said.
“It’s no secret we know how we play against each other. It’s two games that are very much alike, so it’s basically who’s going to outplay who from the baseline.
“I think serve is an important factor in tomorrow’s match. Both of us will try to serve high percentage of first serves and not allow the other player attack the second serve too many times.
“Yeah, a lot about tactics and a lot about how of course you handle your emotions of the greatness of that occasion of playing for the grand slam title.”