Men’s Australian Open Final Hailed As Best Match In Tennis History

Novak Djokovic has claimed his third Australian Open and seventh consecutive win over second seed Rafael Nadal, besting the Spaniard across the longest Grand Slam final of the Open era and the longest match ever played in the history of the Australian Open. The tumultuous five setter took five hours and 53 minutes to complete, comfortably beating the 4 hour and 54 minute mark set at the 1988 US Open final between Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl, and falling just two minutes shy of matching the entire 2012 women’s final with just the first set. But numbers alone don’t do this match justice. After dropping the first set 5-7, the Serb went on to win 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7(5) 7-5 in what many are now calling the greatest match in tennis history. We kind of agree. Here’s what the pundits had to say if it was all past your bedtime…

Australian soccer player Tim Cahill on Twitter: “Take a bow both men. Ultimate athletes and professionals – credit to sport. Mental and physical strength tested to the max.”

Australian tennis great Pat Cash: “It was an absolutely super-human effort by Djokovic. At the end an exhausted Djokovic just had more power and it was able to get him home. And as tired as he was he had a little bit more sting in his game to hit the winner,” he said. “Nadal has go to almost think ‘if I can’t beat this guy now when am I going to beat him? After all that time this guy is exhausted and I can’t finish him off’. It just goes to show how good he is. It’s mind-blowing.”

US great Jim Courier, who called last night’s game: “This is as good as I’ve seen,”. Then later: “They should put this match in a time capsule for the achievements of men.”

News Limited’s Leo Schlink: “Last night’s classic Australian Open final will deservedly live down through the ages. At 5hrs 53mins, it not only occupies a place in the record books as the longest major final in history and the longest match at the Australian Open, it will also be celebrated for its drama as it rose to an astonishing crescendo after a tense opening.”

ESPN, who have anointed the match the greatest in men’s finals history: “Here we thought two classic semifinal matchups at the Australian Open were enough. Those were mere appetizers. Nothing could have prepared us for Sunday’s final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. They traded shots for 5 hours, 53 minutes, the longest Grand Slam men’s singles final in history. If September’s U.S. Open finale between the two was a boxing bout, how would one classify this? It now leads the way in our look at the five most memorable men’s Grand Slam finals in the Open era.”

The New York Times concur: “But numbers, and there were many of them as Sunday night turned into Monday morning in Melbourne, do not sum up the emotional power of this duel, which deserves a place among the most riveting matches in the modern history of the sport. It was the latest joint venture in a golden age in the men’s game that has repeatedly matched strength against strength.”

So do Fox Sports: “Clichés are the enemy of sports reporting, but sometimes, when words fail, that really is all you’re left with. This was indeed a match no one deserved to lose. It was the match of the century, and you get the feeling you’d be saying that if it had happened in 2099, not 2012.”

From The Guardian: “There followed a rare sight: a standing ovation for a single point. When Djokovic hit long after a 32-shot rally of exquisite quality, he collapsed on his back and the Rod Laver Arena (including the man himself) rose to applaud both men.”

Nadal post-match: “I think we played a great tennis match. It was I think a very good show, in my opinion. I enjoyed being part of this event and this match.”

Djokovic post-match: “Rafa you’re one of the best players ever, one of the most respected on tour. We made history tonight, unfortunately there couldn’t be two winners, but I wish you all the best for the season. I hope we will have many more matches like this, many more finals.”

So do we, Novak. So do we.

Title Image by Saeed Khan via Getty