It went for five thrilling sets, it took almost six hours and it was two warriors battling it out on the tennis court, but unfortunately only one could win and that was Novak Djokovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 over Rafa Nadal at the Australian Open final on Sunday.
It was truly gripping drama as Nadal came out of the blocks all guns blazing, while Djokovic looked uncomfortable and changed shirts and racquets on several occasions. Then the Serbian fought his stride and won the second and third sets.
It all looked to be going according to plan for the world number one, as he appeared destined for glory in the fourth but Nadal hung in there like a warrior with the chips down and eventually somehow won the tiebreaker.
Djokovic appeared worn down by the fourth set defeat and fatigue was getting to him so when Nadal grabbed a break in the final set it appeared over. But it wasn’t and the Serbian hit back, somehow, before prevailing 7-5 in a thrilling finale.
It was the longest ever Grand Slam final. It was truly epic. One of the greatest matches? Opinions are divided, but is was a truly incredible between two players deserving of the crown.
Djokovic said: “To come out on top after nearly six hours is incredible. A match that is the longest of all Grand Slam finals in history, it makes me want to cry, really. And I am flattered to play in front of Rod Laver and all the other past champions.”
He added: “Rafa deserved to prolong the match. I felt my body started to slow down, and both of us were giving our last drop of energy. In those moments you need some luck. In the end we were both trying to shorten the points by going for big shots.”
On the other hand, Nadal was very upbeat for a defeated finalist, especially one who has lost his past three finals.
Nadal said: “It was one of the toughest games I have ever played. But you just accept.
“We played a great tennis match. I enjoyed being part of it. I wanted to win, but I am happy about how I did. All of 2011 I didn’t play a match like this. I was more aggressive and the passion was there. A lot of positive aspects.”
He added: “In fact, I have never felt so many positive things after a loss.”
Indeed, it was the intensity of the clash which impressed so many onlookers. Djokovic added: “I’m playing against one of the greatest players ever. The player that is so mentally strong, and he always comes up with his best game and best shots at the right moments.”
They both were mentally strong and they both did little wrong. For it go for almost six hours tested their fitness and willpower. It was truly epic.