By Wesley Kaminsky
5 hours,and 53 minutes. That was the time of the 2012 Australian Open Championship. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal squared off for the third straight time in a Grand Slam Final, with Djokovic winning all three. This one though, was the best of them all. It took nearly six hours, but Djokovic got past Nadal with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 victory. It was the longest final in the open era and one of the greatest matches in the history of the game. It’s right up there with that epic Federer-Nadal Wimbledon final from 2008.
In this first set, Djokovic came out a little flat, losing it 7-5. It didn’t take long for ‘Nole to get his mojo going though. After an early break of Nadal’s serve early in the second set to go up 3-1, Djokovic went on to win it 6-4. In the third set, it looked like Nadal was being worn down as Djokovic lost just two points on serve while winning the set 6-2.
With Djokovic leading 2-1 in sets, the match was just getting started. With people on the East Coast just getting up to start their day, they were in for a treat. On serve in the fourth set, Djokovic led 0-40 on Nadal’s serve, with a chance to go up 5-3 and serve for his third Australian Open. After Nadal fended off three break points, we were back on serve, and the momentum was on Rafa’s side. Djokovic looked like he was wearing down, and after Nadal took the tiebreaker 7-5, the momentum grew even more.
The 5th set was a thing of beauty. Djokovic looked winded, and Nadal looked as fresh as he’d been the entire match. After breaking Djokovic to go up 4-2, Nadal had his chance to go for the kill. With Nadal leading 30-15, he missed an easy backhand down the line just wide, squaring things back up at 30 all. Instead of 40-15, we had a completely different game, and Djokovic capitalized on it. He broke back, and held serve. Suddenly, it was 4-4 in the 5th set of a Grand Slam final. Does it get much better than that?
After fighting off a break point at 4-4, Nadal was broken again at 5 all, giving Novak a chance to serve for the match. Nadal refused to go down without a fight though, as he got a break point opportunity, which Djokovic saved. Two points later, the Serbian was on his back, as he’d just won his third straight Grand Slam, and beaten Nadal for the seventh straight time.
It took almost six hours, but Djokovic proved yet again why he is the best player in the world. The man is a monster.
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