Djokovic hungry for eighth Open crown

Darren Walton
Novak Djokovic is staring down yet another Australian Open title

Intent on keeping his challengers at bay, Novak Djokovic has warned only the most complete performance can stop him from capturing a mind-blowing eighth Australian Open men's singles crown.

As if his imperious display in swatting aside Rafael Nadal in straight sets in last year's Melbourne Park decider wasn't enough, Djokovic enters the 2020 final in even better touch.

Unbeaten in 12 matches this summer, the super Serb declared his preparation for Sunday's showdown with either Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev "perfect".

"I'm pleased with the way I've been feeling and playing," the 32-year-old Djokovic said.

"I thought ATP Cup went really well for me, got a lot of hours spent on the court, singles and doubles.

"It was a great lead-up for Australian Open. Obviously got a lot of positive energy from that competition.

"I've dropped only one set so far up to the finals."

Despite believing there's no such thing as perfect tennis, the quintessential perfectionist is still chasing it, as he did 12 months ago against Nadal.

"You try to get as close to that. Last year's grand slam final performance was probably the best grand slam final performance I've ever had against Rafa, who was in form," Djokovic said.

"This year I'll have a different opponent in the final, so obviously it's going to be a different match-up, different preparation.

"I'll prepare myself for that match. Hopefully I'll be able to perform as well as I always had in the Australian Open finals."

He's always won his finals in Melbourne.

An eighth triumph would propel Djokovic above Nadal and into top spot in the rankings on Monday and extend the big three's dominance of the Open to 14 titles in the past 15 years.

And Djokovic, chasing a 17th slam from his 25th major final appearance, is making no secret of his plan to lean on his vast experience against whichever first-time Open finalist he faces.

"There is more advantage to have the experience than disadvantage," Djokovic said.

"It's better obviously coming into the grand slam finals to have some experience behind you.

"At the same time, if you don't have that experience, maybe then you don't have the expectations or you don't have the pressure of being in the finals that you need to win.

"... The younger players now coming up and challenging us oldies to get to the grand slam finals. It's happening already. You're going to have Dominic or Sascha in the finals.

"It's inevitable it's going to happen more frequently in the future. It's good for sport.

"I'm going to try my best to prolong their domination in the grand slam as much as possible. I'm sure Roger and Rafa would agree."

Nadal, with 12 French Open crowns, and Federer, with eight Wimbledon titles, are the only other men to have won the same slam at least eight times.

Thiem and Zverev clash in the second semi-final on Friday night.