NOVAK DJOKOVIC SLOWLY wore Rafael Nadal down on Sunday, eventually running out the winner 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 to claim his third Australian Open title.
The 24-year0-old sealed victory after nearly six hours on court – the match concluded at 1:37 a.m. local time – and became the fifth man since the Open Era began in 1968 to win three consecutive Grand Slam finals.
In additon to securing his fifth Grand Slam title, Djokovic’s win maintained the Serb’s mastery of Nadal, who has lost a total of seven finals against the World Number One since March.
In losing this evening the Spaniard earned an ignominious honour. He is now the only player of the Open era to have lost three successive Grand Slam finals. Scant reward, one feels, for a performance that would comfortably have merited victory against any other opponent.
After coming from 5-3 down to win the fourth-set tiebreaker, Nadal was up a break at 4-2 in the fifth set while Djokovic, uncoordinated and breathing heavily between points, appeared to be tiring.
Somehow, Djokovic summoned the energy to force a break. Buoyed by his good fortune, the Serb’s movement and striking returned. He subsequently broke for a 6-5 lead and, after yielding a 30-0 advantage, saved a break point before driving a final forehand past Nadal.
The previous longest major singles final was Mats Wilander’s win over Ivan Lendl at the U.S. Open in 1988, which lasted 4 hours, 54 minutes.
The longest Australian Open final also involved Wilander in 1988, when the Swede beat Pat Cash in 4:27.
– additonal reporting from the AP