Novak Djokovic recalls his favourite matches and the ‘highest level’ he has ever played at

Novak Djokovic 2019 Australian Open final

Novak Djokovic has recalled some of the favourite matches he has played in his career and identified the highest level he produced in back-to-back matches in a Grand Slam.

The Serbian legend highlighted his straight-set victories over Lucas Pouille and Rafael Nadal in consecutive matches at the 2019 Australian Open, as well as his aggressive approach throughout this year’s edition of the Melbourne major.

Djokovic, the top seed at the Australian Open in 2019, dismantled the 28th-seeded Pouille 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the semi-finals of the event. He then crushed the No 2 seed – his great rival Nadal – 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in the title match with a stunning performance.

At the 2023 Australian Open in January, Djokovic dropped just a single set in a dominant run to the title – finishing with a 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) final triumph over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 36-year-old is a 10-time Australian Open champion, having won his maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne in 2008.

Speaking in an interview with tennis great John McEnroe for ESPN, Djokovic was asked to pick some of his favourite matches of the last decade.

“Back-to-back matches on the highest level of Grand Slams that I’ve ever played was 2019 Australian Open semis and finals. I beat Lucas Pouille, and then I beat Nadal in the finals. Straight sets both matches, and I played incredibly clean tennis,” reflected the world No 1.

“And I would say also this year’s Australian Open was quite good. I did play some of my most aggressive tennis that I ever played.”

Following his last four win over Pouille in Australia, the 24-time Grand Slam champion assessed his performance and discussed being in the zone.

“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. Yeah, you just happen to be in that zone that we all strive for,” said the Serbian in his press conference.

“Every professional athlete wants to be in the zone, where everything flows so effortlessly and you are executing automatically everything you are intending to execute. You don’t need to think too much. I guess you’re driven by some force that takes over you and you feel divine, you feel like in a different dimension.

“It’s quite an awesome feeling that we all try to reach and stay in. It’s probably the biggest challenge, I think, is how to repeat that, how to stay there for as long as you possibly can. Again, it depends on how you feel that day, who is across the net, various things.

“It’s an individual sport, so everything really depends on you, how you emotionally cope with all these things. Sometimes you feel more anxious, nervous because who is across the net, occasion, or maybe something tenses up in your body and you’re not striking the ball as smoothly.

“It really takes a long time to get to that stage or phase where you have so much confidence and everything flows, but it takes such little time to lose it. That’s why we all are very committed and very aware that professionalism really gets you to that state of mind and play where everything flows.”

Djokovic then placed his 2019 final display over Nadal on top of the list of performances in major championship matches.

“It ranks right at the top. Under the circumstances, playing against Nadal, such an important match, yeah, I mean, it’s amazing,” declared Djokovic in his post-tournament press conference.

“Obviously back-to-back semifinals and finals, I think I made 15 unforced errors in total in two matches, it’s quite pleasantly surprising to myself, as well, even though I always believe I can play this way, visualize myself playing this way. At this level, as I said, under the circumstances, it was truly a perfect match.”

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