Two best players in the world get a milestone in their astonishing rivalry: for the first time in the Open era two guys played against each other in three straight major finals (following the championship matches in London and New York), and it happened at their 30th meeting (only five pairs before had reached this number), moreover they make the 18th pair to play in each slam. The occasion was exceptional and the match as well…
(1)Novak Djokovic d. (2)Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 [5:53 h]
Both finalists began slowly in contrary to their previous final in New York where the pace of the match was sensational from start to finish. In the 5th game Djokovic twisted a bit his right ankle. He strengthen his 1st serve (3 out of 9 aces of the final served in that game) due to limitation of the movement, but Nadal broke him after a couple ‘deuces’. The angry Nole changed his T-shirt from white to a black one, and needed two more games to get back to his normal rhythm. He won three straight games from 2:4, but Nadal notched the same streak afterwards and took the very important 1st set (he had only lost one match of his previous 134 in Grand Slams after winning the first set). In the following two sets, Djokovic quickly raced to a 4:1* lead, the main difference – Nadal erased a break in the 2nd set, saving three set points in two games, he even had a game point to level at 5 games apiece, but Djokovic hit the line with his return then – the linesman called it “out”, the chair umpire Pasqual Maria reacted immediately, and Nadal lost the challenge and his concentration. Djokovic returned to his white T-shirt before the 3rd set. Seemingly the crucial moment of the final appeared in the 8th game of the 4th set with Djokovic leading 4:3 (40/0) – Nadal saved a triple mini-match point in a great style: forehand winner, service winner, backhand winner, he held his service game and the rain came for the first time within the fortnight! The roof was closed, the court toweled by ball-boys, and after the interruption players continued the final without another warm-up -Djokovic won first five points, Nadal maintained his composure and the tie-break decided. The Spaniard was more passive but prevailed two long rallies at 3:5 – D’Joke missed forehand twice. Nadal delivers a service winner, Djokovic misses forehand again, Nadal celebrates on his knees (I’ve never seen such a reaction from him after winning a set) and for the first time in their 30th meeting, they enter the decisive fifth set! Djokovic begins it (and finishes) in the black T-shirt. At the beginning of the set it’s pretty clear that they’re going to break two records: the longest match in Melbourne and the longest final in Grand Slam tournaments. Just like two days before, it’s a dogfight involving the strongest players in the world, physically and mentally, a real war of attrition of two best active 5-set specialists. Djokovic looks deadly tired in the 4th game which he holds, it seems he may lose the final set quickly, his ability to recover during long matches is amazing though, Nadal’s too. They move beyond themselves with tremendous determination. Rafa leads *4:2 (30/15) when makes perhaps the easiest error of the match, trying to pass his opponent from a comfortable position. It’s the vital moment of the championships – Djokovic resurrects. At *3:4 (15/0) he wins the longest rally of the match at the time (26 strokes). At 4:4 Nadal takes a revenge winning even longer rally in the opening point (32 strokes) – Djokovc collapses on the court. He hangs in the match with an easy hold (to 15) and breaks Nadal in the 11th game after a forehand error from the Spaniard. The last game delivers big emotions and hope for another twist, Djokovic 30/0, then 30/40, saves a break point with a cross-court backhand winner – really brave shot, has an advantage, strong serve down the T, Nadal returns somehow almost diving, inside-outside forehand and Djokovic defends his title at 1:37 a.m. local time, after magnificent effort in his last two matches – 4:50 against Murray followed up by 5:53 against Nadal – no-one in the Grand Slam history spent so much time on court in the last two rounds!! They are so tired that ball-boys bring them chairs as one of officials boringly speaks. “We made history tonight and unfortunately there couldn’t be two winners,” Djokovic says during the ceremony. “Good morning, everybody,” Nadal laughs. “Congratulations to Novak and his team. They deserve it. They are doing something fantastic, so congratulations.”
Djokovic captured 29th title (five majors) in his 129th tournament at the main level, he becomes just the fifth player in the Open era beside Laver, Sampras, Federer and Nadal to win three consecutive majors, now he faces a task (like Sampras in 1994 and Federer in years 2006-07) to conquer Paris grabbing four Slams in a row. It’s very probable that he will reach the final there to play against Nadal once again! “Under the circumstances it was definitely the greatest match I’ve ever played. The match that could have gone either way. The match that almost went six hours. Adding to all that, it was a Grand Slam final and a win against the biggest rival.” stated the Serb a day after the final. Stats of the final
L.Paes/R.Stepanek d. (1)B.Bryan/M.Bryan 7-6(1), 6-2
Five longest matches at the Australian Open:
5 hours, 53 min. Novak Djokovic d. Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 – Final, 2012 5 hours, 14 min. Rafael Nadal d. Fernando Verdasco 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-7(1), 6-4 – SF, 2009 5 hours, 11 min. Boris Becker d. Omar Camporese 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 0-6, 4-6, 14-12 – 3R, 1991 4 hours, 59 min. Andy Roddick d. Younes El Aynaoui 4-6, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4, 21-19 – QF, 2003 4 hours, 59 min. Pete Sampras d. Tim Mayotte 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 4-6, 7-5, 12-10 – 1R, 1990
Five longest Grand Slam finals:
5 hours, 53 min. Novak Djokovic d. Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 – Australian Open, 2012 4 hours, 55 min. Mast Wilander d. Ivan Lendl 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 – US Open, 1988 4 hours, 48 min. Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 – Wimbledon, 2008 4 hours, 47 min. Ivan Lendl d. Mats Wilander 6-7(7), 6-0, 7-6(4), 6-4 – US Open, 1987 4 hours, 47 min. Mast Wilander d. Guillermo Vilas 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-0, 6-4 – Roland Garros, 1982
5-set barometer: 15-4 Rafael Nadal, 15-5 Novak Djokovic, 12-6 Andy Murray
I had decided before the current season to update the blog with lower frequency than last year thus I prolonged my domain with a weaker bandwidth. Unfortunately my bandwidth limit was exceeded last week and that’s the reason the blog was inaccesible in the last four days. I’d like to apologize you for any inconvenience – if the problem repeats soon, I will back to the last year’s domain.
Te pido una opinión ¿la final de Australia fue el mejor partido que has visto? Para mí sí, el mejor partido de la historia (al menos de mi historia)
Sobre la final de Roland Garros. Su web oficial dice que duró “solo” 4h42′ http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/about/records.html ¿se han equivocado ellos?
No para mí, creo que el nivel del juego no fue tan alto como en Nueva York. Consideraría este partido como el mejor en historia si jugaron como en Nueva York con resultado de Melbourne.
No estoy seguro ->
Wilander vs. Vilas : the most soporific final of the human history 🙂
I agree with Voo, good match but not the best of the two players. Madrid match 2009 is the best !
I recently found something curious
“the longest-ever Australian Open match — longer than both the official record of 5 hours, 14 minutes set in the 2009 semifinal by Nadal and Fernando Verdasco, and the real record of about five and a half hours set by Gilles Muller and Feliciano Lopez in the first round that year (a scoreboard malfunction that affected several matches that day resulted in the match time being recorded as 4 hours, 22 minutes)”
Yes, there was a problem with scoreboard that day, someone said (who’d witnessed the match) that Muller served 47 aces, and I’ve been sticking to it on my “ace” thread since then, despite ATP doesn’t show any aces from that match on its website. They are fast paced players so 4:22 with their scoreline is very probable. It remains some kind of mystery anyway.
Look at a very similar scoreline from Wimbledon 2004:
Tursunov d. Sargsian 6-3, 7-6(5), 3-6, 4-6, 15-13… 397 points played (4 hours 1 minute)
Muller d. Lopez 6-3, 7-6(5), 4-6, 4-6, 16-14… 390 points played