Novak Djokovic has won the 2012 Australian Open after beating Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6- 7, 7-5 in the final in Melbourne.
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Novak Djokovic has won the 2012 Australian Open after a thrilling final with world number two Rafael Nadal in Melbourne on Sunday.
The Serb came into the match full of confidence after winning three of the four Grand Slam titles available in 2011 and he had continued that dominant form in Melbourne.
Lleyton Hewitt, David Ferrer and Andy Murray had been dispatched but Nadal is a much tougher test. The Spaniard, who has won 10 Grand Slam titles in his career, is arguably the strongest fighter on the ATP Tour and he had produced a marvelous performance to beat Roger Federer in the semi final, coming from a set down.
It was, therefore, ironic that Nadal won the first set and then went on to lose the final of the Australian Open.
The world number two came out fighting, having been defeat in his last six matches with Djokovic, and he was good value for his 7-5 first set win. The Serb is, however, now number one for a reason and he raised his game in the second and third sets, claiming multiple breaks en route to 6-4 and 6-2 wins.
The final set threatened to be something of a damp squib when Djokovic forced three break points, at 0-40 in the eighth game. Nadal, however, dug deep and saved all three before a rain delay forced a pause while the roof on Rod Laver Arena was closed.
This was perhaps less helpful for Nadal than Djokovic as the world number one was able to compose himself and he came back out and held his serve to love. Chants of "Nole!" began to ring out around Rod Laver Arena but Nadal held on to force a fourth set tie-break.
There was clutch tennis from both players with big, accurate shots powered down by each. Djokovic looked to be in command but some outstanding play from Nadal saw him win the tie-break
Nadal then looked the stronger of the two men in the final set and claimed the first break but Djokovic fought back to level at 4-4. The Serb, who looked a spent force and at one point collapsed to the ground after a long rally, forced a break point in the ninth game but his opponent produced some inspired serving to put the pressure back onto the reigning champion.
Djokovic's response was, however, fantastic with the reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open producing tennis of the highest calibre to claim a break in the eleventh game of the final set of the longest Australian Open match in history. He then served out to win the match 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5.