Djokovic Beats Nadal In Australian Open Final
Novak Djokovic confirmed his place at the top of men's tennis by outlasting Rafael Nadal in a five-set epic to retain his Australian Open title.
The world number one edged a gripping battle against with the second seed 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 in five hours 53 minutes to win his fifth Grand Slam.
It was the final in Grand Slam history, finishing at 0137 local time.
Djokovic, who also beat the Spaniard in their previous six meetings, has now triumphed at the last three majors.
But this might be the sweetest of the all for so many reasons.
His semi-final against Britain's Andy Murray was played a day later than Nadal's with Roger Federer, and lasted four hours 50 minutes.
The Serbian also fought down from break down in the final set as Nadal did everything he could to reverse the balance on their recent rivalry.
Having lost their previous six meetings - all of them finals - Nadal admitted he had to play more aggressively if he wanted to break the sequence.
The plan appeared to be coming to fruition as he made the sharper start with two comfortable service holds followed by a break for 3-2.
He was attacking Djokovic with ferocious pace and accuracy and, although the top seed pulled level at 4-4, Nadal upped the ante when it mattered.
A huge inside-out forehand helped him break for 6-5, and he served out a gruelling 80-minute first set with a roar of delight.
But Djokovic gathered himself to register break points in Nadal's first two service games of the second set, striking for 3-1 with a forehand volley.
Djokovic's service statistics were vastly improved and although a rare double-fault made it 5-4, Nadal returned the favour in the following game to level the contest.
The momentum had shifted and Djokovic was in no mood to relinquish it, coaxing a poor forehand from Nadal to move 3-1 ahead in the third set.
Djokovic dropped only two points on serve and broke again in game eight with a crushing forehand to lead for the first time.
Tension was palpable in a 88-minute fourth set as the crowd feasted on the latest thrilling encounter between two greats of the sport.
Neither man showed any vulnerability until game eight, when Nadal faced 0-40 but brilliantly saved all three break points to level at 4-4.
The left-hander was suddenly buzzing and twice successfully served to stay in the set before overturning a 5-3 deficit to edge the tie-break.
Nadal dropped to his knees in celebration and it was he who made the first move in the decider, going 4-2 in front when Djokovic fired long.
However, Nadal then missed a routine backhand at at 30-15 in game seven, throwing the momentum away and helping Djokovic hit back.
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Updated on 2013-06-04 10:39
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