Djokovic beats Nadal in marathon classic to win Australian Open

Story highlights

  • World No.1 Novak Djokovic wins Australian Open men's singles title
  • Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal of Spain in marathon five-setter
  • Djokovic has won four of the last five grand slam titles
  • Longest grand slam final in history at five hours 52 minutes

World No.1 Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in the longest final in grand slam history to retain the Australian Open title in Melbourne.

Djokovic has now won four out of the last five grand slams, beating Nadal in three successive finals, to underline his domination of men's tennis, but it took him seven minutes short of six hours to see off the Spaniard in an epic final.

After hitting the winning shot for a 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 7-5 victory, Djokovic lay on his back in triumph before ripping off his shirt, pumping his chest in triumph as he walked to the players' box to embrace his coach.

The match ended at 1.40 a.m. local time Monday and was 59 minutes longer than the previous record, the 1988 U.S. Open final between Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl.

Can anyone stop champion Djokovic?

It also broke the record for the longest match at the Australian Open, the five hours 14 minutes set by Nadal and Fernando Verdasco in 2009.

Pat Cash reflects on epic Aussie final
Pat Cash reflects on epic Aussie final

    JUST WATCHED

    Pat Cash reflects on epic Aussie final

MUST WATCH

Pat Cash reflects on epic Aussie final 03:26
Djokovic friend salutes Aussie win
Djokovic friend salutes Aussie win

    JUST WATCHED

    Djokovic friend salutes Aussie win

MUST WATCH

Djokovic friend salutes Aussie win 01:27
Djokovic wins 'Marathon in Melbourne'
Djokovic wins 'Marathon in Melbourne'

    JUST WATCHED

    Djokovic wins 'Marathon in Melbourne'

MUST WATCH

Djokovic wins 'Marathon in Melbourne' 02:50

"Rafa, you're one of the best players ever," Djokovic said at the trophy presentation.

"We made history tonight, and unfortunately there couldn't be two winners. But I wish you all the best for this season and I hope that we will have many more matches like this and many more finals."

World No. 2 Nadal told the crowd: "I will never forget this match. Even though I lost, it was something really special for me."

The Serbian was also involved in a near five-hour long battle to beat Britain's Andy Murray in the semifinals and when he fell behind after an opening set lasting 80 minutes, all the omens pointed to a Nadal victory.

But the 24-year-old from Belgrade was not to be denied even after a stirring recovery which saw his opponent take the fourth set on a tiebreak to force a decider on the Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park.

It was a bitter disappointment for Nadal who, having beaten arch-rival Roger Federer in Thursday's semifinal, was bidding for his 11th grand slam title.

He had only lost once after winning the first set of a grand slam match since 2007, but in the end he succumbed to Djokovic's sheer persistence.

Two breaks of service to one saw the Mallorcan claim the opener, but Djokovic broke in the fourth game of the second set to recover his composure.

However, serving to level the match, Djokovic played a sloppy game and Nadal closed to 5-4.

But Nadal showed his first sign of fallibility in the next game as he fell behind and facing set point contrived to double fault.

With the impetus now in his favor, Djokovic dominated the third set, running Nadal from side to side and taking it 6-2 with two breaks of service.

Djokovic forced three break points on Nadal's service, leading 4-3 in the fourth, but the World No.2 showed his famous fighting qualities by retrieving them and holding for 4-4.

As the game was completed, a heavy rain shower caused a break in play as the roof on the arena was closed.

When play resumed it was Nadal who came out the sharper and in the tiebreak which followed he upped his game to prevail seven points to five, pumping the air in trademark style as he leveled at two sets all.

He looked set to complete the turnaround when he broke Djokovic to lead 4-2 in the decider.

But it was not be be as the break was retrieved with Djokovic then looking the stronger.

He finally broke through to serve for the match at 6-5.

Still he was forced to save a break point, but he closed out the match on the first championship point to claim the winner's check for $2.4 million.

      Tennis

    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.