2012 - Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5
Having destroyed Roger Federer’s aura of invincibility, Nadal found himself on the receiving end
against an inspired Novak Djokovic who defeated him in three successive Grand Slam finals,
culminating in this pulsating six hour epic which left both men almost too weak to stand by the end. The longest men’s singles final in recorded history, it’s up there with the greatest matches of all time. Djokovic looked a broken man when he trailed by a break in the decider but he found almost unfathomable reserves of energy to hit back and claim his third title in Melbourne.
2009 – Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2
Nadal and Federer set new standards almost every time they step on a tennis court in a Grand Slam final and this one thoroughly lived up to the pre-match billing. Federer has always struggled against Nadal on outdoor hard courts and although the momentum ebbed and flowed, he never quite looked like landing a decisive blow and as we all know, Nadal is one of the best in the business when it comes to fifth sets. At the time it was Federer’s third loss in a row to Nadal in slam finals and it was all too much for the Swiss who broke down in tears during the presentation ceremony.
2005 – Marat Safin beat Lleyton Hewitt 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
The atmosphere on Rod Laver Arena when an Aussie is competing is almost incomparable in the
tennis world and Hewitt worked Melbourne into a frenzy of anticipation with his run to the final
at the start of 2005. No Aussie male had won the title since Mark Edmondson back in 1976 and a
bulked up Hewitt at the peak of his powers came closer than anyone to breaking that duck. For a
set he had Safin on the ropes but under the guidance of new coach Peter Lundgren, the big Russian found an inner calm and after beating Roger Federer from match point down in the semi-finals, he felt almost invincible. He started to find his range with his heavier groundstrokes and ultimately overpowered Hewitt before famously declaring his intention to ‘drink Melbourne dry.’
2000 – Andre Agassi beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Agassi’s second Australian Open success and a victory which capped his astonishing resurgence
through 1998 and 1999. Having sunk to 141 in the world back at the end of 1997, dabbled with
crystal meth and failed a drugs test, his career seemed over but his two Grand Slam titles in 1999
took him back to the summit of the world rankings and by winning the 2000 Australian Open, he
became the first man since Rod Laver to reach four consecutive Grand Slam finals. Kafelnikov was hoping to defend the title he won in 1999 but Agassi lived up to his nickname of “The Punisher” as he made the Russian suffer in the brutal mid-afternoon heat.
1995 – Andre Agassi beat Pete Sampras 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(6), 6-4
One of the rare occasions Agassi got the better of his great rival in a Grand Slam final. 1995 was
the first year that Agassi opted to contest the Australian Open and he immediately took a liking to
the medium paced Rebound Ace surface which had just the right amount of pace and bounce for
his high intensity game. Sampras entered the event as defending champion but unknown to the
general public he was going through the most difficult phase of his life having received the news
that longtime coach Tim Gullikson had been diagnosed with a brain tumour at the start of the year.The American broke down in tears during his five set quarter-final win over Jim Courier and after overcoming Michael Chang in another difficult semi-final, it seemed written in the stars that he’d go on to win. However Agassi didn’t read the script. Having been in superb form all fortnight, he brushed off the loss of the opening set to overwhelm a visibly fatigued Sampras in the next three.