Novak Djokovic Outlasts Rafael Nadal In 5-hours, 53-minute Epic Australian Open Win
by Sean Randall | January 29th, 2012, 11:13 am

Can it get any better? What a show this morning from two of the greatest tennis players of this century, and two of the best athletes in sports today. Novak Djokovic successully defended his Australian Open title literally outlasting rival Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 in an astonishing 5-hours, 53-minutes.

You read right, FIVE HOURS 53 MINUTES!

The match lived up to the billing as Djokovic and Nadal slugged it out with their bruising, physical style for almost six hours in what will go down as one of the greatest Grand Slam finals of all-time.

Nadal took the lead early capturing the the first set in 88 minutes thanks in large part to Djokovic who uncharacteristically made a myriad of errors.

In the second set the Serb finally got on track and began dictating points and dominating with his powerful groundstrokes and pressuring Nadal on his serve.

In the third, it looked like a runaway. We finally saw some separation between the two who been so close for the first three hours as Djokovic quickly went up 2-1 in sets.

But there was still more twists and turns to come – what else would you expect from a six hour classic!

The key moment came in the fourth set. With Nadal on the ropes serving 0-40, 3-4 Djokovic was just five points from the title. But light rain began to fall and after Nadal saved all three break points the match was suspended at 4-4.

Rafa, who was all but down and out seemed to recharge after the 15-minute delay to close the roof and dry the court. He fought back winning an incredible tiebreak forcing a fifth set, a first in their 30 career meetings.

With both players hanging on as they crossed the five-hour mark, they traded breaks and in the end it was Djokovic the last man standing just past 1am in Melbourne.

What an incredible finish to the first Slam of the tennis season.

The Serb had questions of his heath after a near-five hour match with Andy Murray but after going almost six hours against Nadal, the guy is Herculean.

Djokovic’s win gives him five career Slams, three Australian Opens and earns him a seventh straight win over the World No. 2 Nadal, all in finals. And with the way he won it he certainly sent the message that he’s still virtually unbeatable.

I don’t see anyone taking the top spot from him anytime soon. He’s indestructible.

For Nadal, what else can you say? The guy had a bad knee, bad shoulder but as he always does he gave it his all and more in Australia. And he played well enough to win and I thought he would as we went into the fifth. The loss though has to leave a scar and how he returns after such a crushing defeat will be a big question mark.

We’ve seen Roger Federer do it time and time again, but this is the first real tough one for Nadal.

In the end you have to applaud both players for a heck of a performance. That was truly (another) one for the ages.

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32 Comments for Novak Djokovic Outlasts Rafael Nadal In 5-hours, 53-minute Epic Australian Open Win

Andrea Says:

Holy sh&&!!!!!!!!

jane Says:

I think the H2H is now 14-16 for Rafa. Amazing that they’ve played 30 times, including being the only guys to play three consecutive slam finals. Quite the rivalry this Rafole is turning out to be.

I hope Nole can figure out a way to shorten points, coming to net, droppers, etc, more often. Last year he was using the drop shot more often, usually quite effectively too.

Tennislover Says:

Sean – You should edit the following:
” Djokovic’s win gives him five career Slams, three Australian Opens and puts him ahead 17-13 against Nadal in the head-to-head.” The H2h is 16-14 in Nadal’s favor and Djokovic has five majors so far in his career. He has to win the FO to get his career slam.

blank Says:

Too bad next GS finals is over 4 months away!!

Kimmi Says:

these guys probably needs to take 2 months off after this.

jane Says:

Kimmi, I really do think Nole should consider skipping Dubai. He can add a 500 point event later in the year. He should take a rest until IW. I think Rafa already said he is taking Feb. off. Fed is playing Rotterdamn. Not sure about Murray. I know he said his next decision was whether or not to play DC.

Jack Lewis Says:

You mean career grand slam right? A career slam is a slam that occurs in your career…so 5 is correct.

Nims Says:

I don’t think Rafa came in to this tournament with any pain. He only lacked some practice because of injury that too in December. Why is that we need to add injury clause everytime we talk about NAdal.

Skorocel Says:

Congratulations to Novak! Nadal fought admirably, but in the end, creativity (luckily for tennis) prevailed over destruction. Bravo Nole! Make that 7:0 and counting…

skeezerweezer Says:

jane @11:29

Quite the contrary me thinks Novak found his winning formula this past year against the Beast by being more patient and then strking as the window opened :).

However I agree that now that he has this all under his belt he can improve and develop more shots. But then again I think why change a winning formula?

Also think that if Murray didn’t push Nole so hard in the semi he would have finished Rafa in 3 or 4. But it is what it is. Thank goodness he is in unbelievable shape.

I know you are still relishing this win, but doesn’t this whole scenario gonna make FO the most competetive yet? Hee Haw can hardly wait.

tfouto Says:

Djokovic added: “You are in pain, you suffer, you know that you’re trying to activate your legs, you’re trying to push yourself another point, just one more point, one more game. You’re going through so much suffering your toes are bleeding. Everything is just outrageous, but you’re still enjoying that pain.”

Dory Says:

Epic. Dramatic. Yes. But they cannot play every Slam final like this zOMG! That would ruin their bodies. There is a reason Federer plays so fast and spending last possible energy. Federer in my humble opinion, remains the most efficient AND successful player. People only look at the success and who’s the current hot favorite. They don’t look at how efficiently playing has enabled Federer to maximize his career performance at the age of 30. Point is: this match was a classic, no doubt but I don’t want every Slam final to be a 6 hour hard hitting marathon that ends up draining the life out of both players. Sure this type of tennis is of course enjoyable, there re exciting rallies but at the same time there’s less variety. Variety in the game makes it less boring and shows the versatility of the player. So for me, there is MORE ENJOYABLE tennis than this.

Dory Says:

That is of course not to understate Djokovic’s and Nadal’s athletic prowess. These two are the absolute top 2 athletes in tennis and watching them is a treat any time.

jamie Says:

Hi, ya’ll.

As predicted, Nole won the AO.

Predicting the winner of a slam is quite easy, actually. Nole had the best chart for the AO by far. You must have noticed that he didn’t win this AO as easy as he won in 2008 and 2011… He will continue winning titles until May, dominating and making tons of prize money. But after May he will enter a different period where he will still remain competitive but he will not win another slam this year….

What is complicated is predicting the slam finalist because sometimes a player with a very lousy chart can reach the final. Nadal has had very bad charts for the past 3 slams(Wimbledon, USO and AO) but he still made the finals but he was never winning not with a negative chart. For example, Del Potro had better charts at Wimbledon, USO and AO than Nadal but still Nadal went further. Neither of them had the winning chart for Wimbledon, USO or AO. Same can be said for Federer and Murray. None of these guys were winning the past 3 slams. Nole had the winning chart for the past 3 slams.

According to the psychic:

FO will be won by Nadal and could very likely be his last slam win.

Wimbledon and USO, Murray could end up winning both and becoming #1.

Federer will not win another slam in his career.

Del Potro will win another slam in 2013.

And Djokovic will not win another slam this year but will resume winning again on the biggest tennis stage in 2013.

sheila Says:

congrats 2 both players. i predicted nadal 2win this & he came close. interesting role reversal. nadal is djokovic’s federer. hopefully other players like murray will come in to the mix insofar as remaining majors. i still think nadal will win french. i would love 2c roger win another major but, imho it is ?able. it was nice 2c aggressive play from murray in semis & federer seems 2b returning w/more authority. federers problem as well as his artistry is his 1handed bh. against nadal it just doesnt hold up. berdych, if he had some tennis balls, should have beat nadal in qtrs. i mean his ground strokes r bigger than djokovic, but his mental & physical stamina r no where near nadals or djokovics. would love 2c delpo win a major this year. still think it will be a continuation of 2011: nadal/djokovic.

GM Says:

8 straight finals, 8 straight losses – sorry, but Uncle Toni, you gotta go. Playin “barn door” style defense isn’t good enough against Novak.

Maybe Nadal needs a stern Lendl-type coach who can do some serious cussin’ in Catalan and come up with an actual game plan. Watching Djokovic tee off on return of serves and backhands landing at the service line, this season already looks alot like 2011 Part 2.

Tennis Fan Says:

Actually the reason the match took so long is that they are still bouncing the ball getting ready to serve !!!

Ajet Says:

i sure hope for no match in a slam final to go longer than this! I got DEAD TIRED not even by watching it live on tv, but only after reading its live commentary and live chatting here for 5 hrs!!! the match still hadn’t ended and i had to leave the tennis-x site exhausted to give myself relief from the match tension!! dunno what the guys who actually were playing the match must be going through at those moments! someday somebody will die on court, if the courts are not sped up a bit to allow some net play or serve volley so as to enable players to end points quicker!

jane Says:

I agree that more of a variety of court speeds would be good.

Ajet Says:

lol Tennis Fan!

serbian hammer Says:

jamie,Murray will never become number one,he will win a slam or two,in 2113,and Djokovic,Nadal and Federer will rule for 100 years.hahahahah,just kidding,by the way i had to write ‘just kidding’ because maybe people could take my comment serious :),after ao 2012 final.

DC Says:

the ball was bounced more while serving than it was hit in the entire game…
more time was spent preparing to serve than in playing

Tennis Vagabond Says:

I only saw the final set, with a group of non-tennis fans. No one found the tennis compelling enough to care. I found it boring. Was the whole match like this or was it exagerated on the fifth set, what with the two minute walkabouts between points, and the straight up the middle five feet above the net rallies.
I like both players, and I can enjoy their matches individually, but I find what they play against each other pretty boring.
Congrats to both players, and their fans. Nole is definitely an all time great now!

fed is afraid Says:

poor rafa.
he needs to play fed in every final.
can’t match up with nole

Michael Says:

I was surprised that during the match, Novak was not using the drop shots to good effect especially when Nadal was playing well over the baseline. It was also a day when Novak was playing well below his level but still he got through. This is not a good sign for Nadal going forward.

Nims Says:

@Michael: Most probably this would be Novak’s level going forward. What he did in 2011 was crazy, not sure if he can produce that level consistently. Also note, his level was high only at last year AO and his finals with Nadal. Most of the other matches, he played at the level he played this years finals.

But what is crushing for Nadal would be, it was probably the highest possible level he could play, but still he lost to Novak. Infact it should have been a much easier loss than how it ended up. The match should have been over in 4-sets.

Michael Says:


On Novak’s level of play, I disagree. He was looking weary and somewhat out of sorts especially after that marathon against Murray. He was trying to be aggressive and in a hurry to end up the points. Normally you see Novak slog point-by-point with Nadal and wear him down. Not this day. He was in a hurry looking for winners and that made him prone to errors.

Although Nadal claims to take positives in this loss, I am sure this will hurt especially when he had all things going for him. It is certainly not a good sign for Nadal and the next time he plays Novak it will be tremendous pressure on him to turn things around.

dari Says:

It really was a tremendous display of athleticism by both guys, it gives me a different level of respect for them, for sure.
However, this should not have to be a 6 hour match on hard court! As tremendous defenders as these guys are, some of the points should have been shorter, the court should have been a little quicker to put some of those shots as unretrievable winners!
Not to mention that these guys take a lot of time between points, you can add a few seconds on considering their fatigue from fighting and playing long points.
I would have loved some net play to reduce the length of the point, as well
It’s amazing what these two did over those six hours (I did a VARIETY of things during the five hours that I watched, haha) , and I hope they recover fully (surely they will, this is what they train for) and frankly, dont repeat this.

CONGRATS to novak, had one slam this time of year last, and now has FIVE!
and bravo rafa, one step closer to taking down the guy who has been your nemesis the past several months!

Ajet Says:

well michael, interestingly, wasn’t fed taking positives from his wim 08 and AO 09 finals defeat against rafa??? and we all know how it turned out to be for fed while facing rafa afterwards!

Skorocel Says:

Ajet: “and we all know how it turned out to be for fed while facing rafa afterwards!”

Positive, of course. LOL ;-)

skeezerweezer Says:

What do you think Rafa/Fed should say? “Gee, I am defeated. He owns me and I may never win again. I am a loser. ”

Regardless of the future outcome, don’t see anything wrong with it. You have to believe you can win again, otherwise why play?

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