Djokovic wins longest Aussie Open final over Nadal
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal faced up in the longest singles final Grand Slam in the entire professional tennis history, ending at a record 5 hours and 53 minutes.
On Monday, at 1:37 a.m. local time, Djokovic finally wrapped up the match, winning the finals with 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), and 7-5 and claiming his third title in the Australian Open. This made him become the fifth man since the 1968 beginning of the Open Era to garner three straight victories in the Grand Slam finals.
Following the riveting final, the 24-year-old Serb tore off his shirt to celebrate. He headed to his support camp, and continued to thump the side of the arena with relief and delight.
Before the presentation of the trophy, as Djokovic was sitting on his haunches, Nadal leaned on the net. Soon, an official got them chairs as well as a bottle of water for each player.
Djokovic described the experience as their having made history, but that there just, unfortunately, could not be two winners.
Djokovic had managed to keep his mastery over Nadal, who had been defeated in seven consecutive finals against the Serb from March of last year. In contrast to Djokovic’s three straight title wins, the Spaniard is the first man to lost three consecutive major finals in the open era. He had also lost to Djokovic in four sets during last year’s U.S. Open and Wimbledon.
In 2009, Nadal reduced Roger Federer into tears with his victory of the title over five sets, and after this match, he kept his composure and even managed to joke a bit, starting off his speech with, “Good morning!” He proceeded to extend his congratulations to “Novak and his team,” saying they deserved it for doing a fantastic job.
Interestingly, coming from 5-3 down to a victory of the tiebreaking fourth set, Nadal was leading at 4-2 during the fifth set, with Djokovic looking like he was getting tired.
But somehow, the Number 1-ranked Djokovic, who had also taken almost five hours to win the semifinal match with Andy Murray, managed to respond. He came back to a 6-5 lead and managed to save a break point just before finally coming out victorious.
Prior to this game, the longest major singles finals had been played back in the 1988 U.S. Open between Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl, at 4 hours and 54 minutes, with Wilander winning the game. Wilander was also involved in the longest Austrlian Open, also in 1988, with the Swede beating Pat Cash. Still, Sunday’s match put that old game off the record as the longest in the history of the tournament.
Of course, the opening set had been tense and strewn with errors, giving no indication of the potential of high drama. The two players had actually struggled for consistency with the hot and humid conditions.
After a break exchange, the next 80 minutes were taken by Nadal, just two minutes short of the entire final for the women’s match the day before.