Novak Djokovic v Rafa Nadal: Serbinator to prevail again

The world number 1 can shake off fatigue from the Murray marathon to continue his fine recent record against Rafael Nadal, says Sean Calvert

So, we've reached the final day of the 2012 Australian Open and the last match of the tournament has the potential to perhaps be the best yet.

Novak Djokovic takes on Rafa Nadal for the third straight time in a Grand Slam final and for the 30th time in total.

The Serb has taken the last six in a row and has won 14 of the last 18 sets played between the rivals, so he's a clear favourite to retain his Australian Open crown at a price of around 1.75/7.

That price would probably have been shorter had the Serb not had to battle for almost five hours against Andy Murray in the semi-finals.

But I don't really think that will hinder the world number one too much given that he came back from a near four hour five-set battle with Federer in the US Open before returning to beat Nadal in four hours again in the final.

He has looked more like the Djokovic of 2008 in this tournament, when at times he's appeared spent in the mid stage of his matches before finding a second wind.

And he said in his post-match interview after the semi that he is having breathing problems, which he thinks are probably allergy related and that has to be a factor again against Nadal.

Nole certainly hasn't been in the kind of scintillating form that saw him sweep pretty much all before him in 2011 and his numbers on serve haven't been that great, which will mean more long rallies if he doesn't improve in that department.

The stat that should worry Nole supporters is the fact that Murray created 24 break point chances in their semi-final, plus he only put 61% of his first serves in against the Scot and 53% against David Ferrer.

As for Nadal, well, he's grown into this tournament in typical Rafa fashion and he must have been delighted with his performance against Federer after a slow start.

He can't possibly be confident about facing Djokovic though after those damaging defeats on all surfaces, including his beloved clay over the last nine months.

I'm not entirely sure what Rafa can do about this match-up in a similar way to how Federer is seemingly unable to overcome Rafa in their personal series and you would have to think that a war of attrition is the Spaniard's best hope.

All things considered, this has the potential to be another long battle, but their last three meetings have included three 6-1 sets, which puts me off backing over the total games mark of 39.5

I think a better bet is to take Djokovic on the handicap with a start of minus 3.5 games, as he should win this and is the more likely to hand out a quick and decisive set or two, as Murray discovered on Friday.

Recommended Bet
Back Djokovic -3.5 games at around 2.255/4

Follow Sean on Twitter @seancalvert1

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