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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