Pouille: 'Novak Is The Best In The World'
Frenchman believes Sunday's final will be another great match
The strategy had been to take his game to Novak Djokovic. That tactic was soon torn to shreds on Friday night, as Lucas Pouille was on the receiving end of the World No. 1 at the height of his powers.
The 24-year-old, who came into the Australian Open on the back of four straight losses, and didn’t expect to pass the first round, grew in confidence as he won, particularly in victories over Alexei Popyrin, No. 11 seed Borna Coric and No. 16 seed Milos Raonic.
“I didn't have time to put a strategy into the match,” said Pouille, who lost to Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in their semi-final. “The strategy was to be aggressive, try to be the one who [was] leading the point. But when he's playing that far from the baseline, 10 centimetres from the baseline all the time, it's tough to do it.”
Djokovic now looks to win a record-breaking seventh Australian Open trophy against an in-form Rafael Nadal, who is bidding to become the first player in the Open Era (since April 1968) to win each Grand Slam championship twice. The pair's 53rd FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting on Sunday will be historic, to say the least.
Looking ahead to the match-up, Pouille, admitted, “I think when Novak's playing like this, he's the best in the world for sure. We'll see on Sunday how he goes, because Rafa looks pretty amazing, too. I think they going to make a great match again.
“But I think when he doesn't make any mistake, he's moving so well, he's coming back from defence to offence. I think he's playing perfectly good.”
Pouille, who had been attempting to become the fourth Frenchman to reach the Australian championship final, was not too downhearted. With the services of his new coach in Melbourne, former WTA No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, he’ll rise from No. 31 to No. 17 in the ATP Rankings on Monday.
“I'm very happy the way I played and with the way I got into this tournament, [and the] beginning of the year,” said Pouille. “I think it was the best start possible. It gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the year and for the next couple of tournaments coming very soon, with [the Open Sud de France at] Montpellier in 10 days.”