Sunday, 29 January 2012

Novak Djokovic wins the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic
The Australian Open finished off with a truly extraordinary mens final as Novak Djokovic outlasted Rafael Nadal in 5 sets, 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 7-5.  The final, which lasted a staggering five hours and 53 minutes broke several records; not only was it the longest ever match at the Australian Open, but it was also the longest Grand Slam final ever finishing at 1.37am local time.  The two players received a well deserved standing ovation from an excited crowd with the majority staying in the early hours to catch the late night/early morning drama.

Rafael Nadal started the brighter of the two players as Djokovic took some time to get into the match.  The Serb made a number of unforced errors with Nadal adopting a slightly more aggressive gameplan.  This came through in the numbers as Nadal hit more winners than Djokovic in the opening set. (15 to 14).  After squandering an early break, Nadal broke once more at 5-5 to take the first set, 7-5.  In the second set, Nadal regressed slightly and Djokovic started to find his range taking an early lead.  He held 2 set points at 5-3 up, but stalled serving out the set.  However Nadal couldn't do that in the next game as Djokovic broke right back and claimed the second set after a double fault from the Spaniard.

Djokovic was well on top in the third set and was hitting the ball beautifully and with terrific accuracy as he sped through the third set to win by 6 games to 2.  A crucial factor in the whole match was that Djokovic was much more successful on his 2nd serve than Nadal.  In the third set, Djokovic made 100% of second serve points compared to just 49% for Nadal.  The fourth set was the longest at an incredible 88 minutes and was where the match really exploded into life.  The set went with serve until Djokovic played three inspired points to march into a 0-40 lead on Nadal's serve at 3-4; however Nadal displayed his incredible tenacity to recover each of the virtual match points and saved his best till last with a sensational shot to outfox Djokovic on the final break point.  Nadal went onto hold his serve before the rain started to fall causing a brief delay to proceedings.

The players came out once more and before you knew it, we were into a tiebreak.  Djokovic was two points from the match at 5-3 in the tiebreak, but he lost 4 points in a row as Nadal clawed his way back and celebrated as if he had just won the title.  Nadal carried this momentum into the final set booming forehands past the Serb.  Nadal won the first break of the match at 4-2, but a weary Djokovic somehow recovered it in the next game.  The two players put on a remarkable show with some sensational ralies, but it was Nadal who blinked first with an unforced error to hand Djokovic the almighty break at 5-5.  Djokovic served out the match to claim the title in what was his most sensational win to date.

Djokovic really proved he is a machine out there having taken nearly five hours on Friday to defeat Andy Murray in the semi-finals.  His fitness and determination to fight for the match was truly incredible at times...  And do not take anything away from Nadal who did a remarkable job to save the three crucial break points in the fourth set and prolong this match as long he did.  He will be kicking the opportunities he had in this match and the fact he could not beat Djokovic when he was physically exhausted, but he was part of a truly memorable match and is getting closer and closer to breaking the losing streak he has to Djokovic.  It was a fabulous ending to what had been a very exciting start to the season in the first Grand Slam in 2012... I am now in tennis mourning :-(

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