Only one of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic’s 52 meetings has been at the Australian Open.
However, when it happened in 2012 it certainly left a mark, being the longest ever Grand Slam final when it ran to five hours and 53 minutes before the Serb prevailed 7-5 in the fifth set.
That match will be repeated on Sunday when the world’s two best players meet in the championship match of a fortnight that has been a reminder of their superiority.
The semi-finals told their own story. Nadal, 32, lost just six games against Stefanos Tsitsipas while Djokovic allowed his outclassed French opponent Lucas Pouille only four, taking just 83 minutes on Friday to win 6-0, 6-2, 6-2.
Asked if it had been his intention to outstrip the Spaniard, he replied: ‘Yes. It was hard to do that, but somehow I managed.’
While the two protagonists have an aggregate age of 53 they have shown they remain at the peak of their powers, although in Djokovic’s case that comes after a prolonged slump in the first half of last season.
Innovations like the 25-second shot clock — designed to curtail the excesses of these two serial offenders when it comes to time-wasting — should ensure there is no repeat of the marathon of seven years ago.
Otherwise it would be a huge surprise if there is a great deal to separate them, with their career series standing at 27-25 in the Serb’s favour.
Their last meeting was one of their best, the semi-final at Wimbledon which Djokovic won 10-8 in the fifth set.
He agrees it was the moment that cemented his revival from the struggles of earlier in the year, and he went on to win the Wimbledon title and the US Open.
‘That was the match that mentally turned things around for me. I started the grass court season well.
‘I played finals of Queen’s, got to semis of Wimbledon. Winning against Nadal 10-8 in the fifth set, that catapulted me mentally to a different, more confident self. It has allowed me to then excel in the months after that.’
He was also asked how he would tell his children about the famous match of 2012. ‘I’ll probably not have them sit down and watch it because I don’t like my children to watch TV that long,’ said the world No 1.
‘Nadal has historically throughout my life and career been the greatest rival I ever played against on all surfaces. Some matches that we had were a great turning point in my career. They have made me rethink my game.’
The 31-year-old Serb was in awesome form, making just five unforced errors as he swept aside world No 31 Pouille — who was playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final.
Amelie Mauresmo could only sit helpless in Pouille’s coaching box, watching what must have seemed like a repeat of a bad movie. While she coached Andy Murray he played Djokovic 12 times and lost 11.
Djokovic pronounced it one of his best ever performances at the Rod Laver Arena, where he has claimed this title on six previous occasions.
‘Today was a perfect match for me from the first to the last point,’ he said. ‘I executed everything that I intended to.”