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Djokovic inflicts crushing defeat Pouille to set up final with Nadal

Novak Djokovic will play Rafael Nadal for the 53rd time in the Australian Open final on Sunday after crushing Lucas Pouille. Credit: PA

Novak Djokovic will play Rafael Nadal for the 53rd time in the Australian Open final on Sunday after crushing Lucas Pouille for the loss of only four games.

Of the world number one's 24 grand slam semi-final victories, only the one over an injured Marin Cilic at the US Open in 2015 was more comprehensive than this 6-0 6-2 6-2 demolition, which lasted just an hour and 23 minutes.

Frenchman Pouille, who had never faced Djokovic before, had made it through to the last four of a slam for the first time but was left helpless in the face of such a brilliant performance.

Djokovic said: "It's definitely one of the best matches I ever had on this court. Everything worked the way I'd imagined it and even more so. Tough one for Lucas but he had a great tournament and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season."

The narrative at the start of the tournament was supposed to be about the next generation making their mark, but Djokovic and Nadal conceded just 10 games in the semi-finals between them.

The considerable consolation is that the stage is now set for another chapter in one of the great tennis rivalries, and their first slam final since the 2014 French Open.

Djokovic takes a 27-25 lead into the contest having won their last meeting in typically epic fashion in the last four at Wimbledon last summer. The last time they met here, meanwhile, in the final in 2012, Djokovic won after five hours and 53 minutes in the longest slam final in history.

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Konta beaten in Australia by two-time grand slam champion Muguruza

British interest in the singles at the Australian Open ended with a late-night defeat for Johanna Konta against two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza. Credit: PA

British interest in the singles at the Australian Open ended with a late-night defeat for Johanna Konta against two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza.

Konta hit the first serve of the contest at 12.30am, making it the latest start to a match at Melbourne Park and almost certainly in grand slam history. By the time Muguruza struck the winning shot to claim a 6-4 6-7 (3) 7-5 victory, it was 3.12am.

"I can't believe there are still people watching at 3.15," said Muguruza. "Who cares?"

"I'll go for breakfast now," she added.

This was still nowhere near the latest finish ever, which came in 2008 when Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis played a five-set match that finished at 4.33am.

Although Konta did not come out on top of this one, this was a performance from the British number one that harked back to her form of two years ago, when she appeared a legitimate grand slam challenger, and should give her plenty of confidence for the season ahead.

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Edmund fully focused on Australian Open bid

Credit: PA

British number one Kyle Edmund has pledged to do "everything he can" to be fit for the Australian Open after picking up a knee injury.

The 23-year-old, who is ranked 14th in the world, has withdrawn from next week's Sydney International, which was set to be his final warm-up event before the year's first grand slam in Melbourne.

"I am disappointed that I won't be able to return to Sydney," Edmund was quoted as saying on the Twitter account of the Sydney International.

"I need to focus on my preparations for the Australian Open and do everything I can to be fit for the first grand slam of the year."

Edmund reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2018, losing to Marin Cilic in straight sets, but suffered a shock defeat to Japan's world number 185 Yasutaka Uchiyama on Wednesday in the Brisbane International.

The Australian Open gets under way on January 14.

Australian Open to feature final set tie-breaks

The Australian Open has followed Wimbledon by introducing final-set tie-breaks for matches at next month's tournament. Credit: PA

The Australian Open has followed Wimbledon by introducing final-set tie-breaks for matches at next month's tournament.

But, while Wimbledon will have a standard first-to-seven-points tie-break at 12-12, Australian Open matches which go the distance will be decided by a first-to-10-points tie-break at 6-6.

The US Open was the first grand slam to introduce final-set tie-breaks, with a first-to-seven-points game played at 6-6, meaning the three tournaments will all use a different format. The French Open is now the only slam to use a long deciding set.

The news comes at the end of a year where the divisions between tennis' various governing bodies have become significantly more entrenched despite pledges to work together in the interests of the sport.

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