• Match of the Year: Djokovic vs. Nadal, Australian Open

    12/8/12 7:52 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Match of the Year: Djokovic vs. Nadal, Australian Open Tennistalk's countdown of 2012's Top 10 matches concludes with the Match of the Year. It was another epic installment of the Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal rivalry, this time in the Australian Open title match.

    1. Novak Djokovic d. Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 - Australian Open final

    It was longest Grand Slam final in the history of tennis, the seventh longest match in the history of men's singles, and the longest match in the history of the Australian Open. The 2012 Melbourne final waged between the top two players in the world lasted five hours and 53 minutes, with Djokovic surviving Nadal to capture his third Australian Open title--fifth major triumph overall. Djokovic struck a clinching, inside-out forehand winner to end the proceedings at 1:37 in the morning on Monday.

    The back-and-forth thriller saw Nadal take the first set before Djokovic surged in front to lead two sets to one following a dominant performance in the third frame. From there, both men had chances to seal the deal in slightly quicker fashion; in Djokovic's case, much quicker. Nadal trailed 0-40 at 3-4 in the fourth, dug out of it to hold, but twice had to serve to stay in the championship at 4-5 and 5-6. Without any visible nerves, the Spaniard took care of those service games with ease, forced a tiebreaker, and took it seven points to five.

    Nadal's golden opportunity came with a 4-2 fifth-set advantage already in hand. His ensuing gaffe won't live in infamy quite like Andy Roddick's missed backhand volley against Roger Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon final, but it was easily the costliest unforced error in all of 2012. Having run Djokovic ragged at 30-15, Nadal had a wide-open backhand to end the point. What appeared to be a sure 40-15 lead morphed into a 30-all deadlock when he pushed the backhand just wide, and Djokovic broke serve two points later.

    That proved to the final, cruel momentum swing. Djokovic held comfortably at 4-5, seized another break in the 11th game, then fought off one break point at 6-5 with a punishing backhand. At long last, he converted championship point at ad-in thanks to the final forehand.

    "I think we played a great tennis match," Nadal assured. "It was, I think, a very good show. I enjoyed being part of this event and this match. I really understand that was a really special match, and probably a match that gonna be in my mind not because I lost, no, (but) because the way that we played. I wanted to win, but I am happy about how I did. Physically was the toughest match I ever played. I am tired."

    "Right now, yes," Djokovic said when asked if this was the best win of his life. "This one I think comes out on the top because just the fact that we played almost six hours is incredible. Incredible. I think it's probably the longest finals in the history of all Grand Slams, and just to hear that fact is making me cry, really. We live for these matches. We're trying to dedicate all our life to this sport to come to the situation where we play six-hour match for a Grand Slam title.

    "Unfortunately there had to only be one winner because we both gave it all. We both put 100 percent of our abilities on the court and played to the last moment. Unfortunately there couldn't be two winners, but he definitely deserved to be a winner as well tonight."

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highlights -

RickyDimon , 12/8/12 7:54 PM

This was an epic match and had huge implications but the level wasn't as high as the Wimbledon final.

stratocast51 , 12/8/12 10:31 PM

well the Wimbledon wasn't a very good match. It was just a very good performance by Federer.

RickyDimon , 12/8/12 11:40 PM

Good match

tennis2011 , 12/9/12 12:43 AM

Crap match.

Conspirator , 12/9/12 12:55 AM

I agree with Ricky. To me, the Wimbledon final was just a good performance by Fed. I don't think the level was higher than the AO final. The AO final - both players were evenly matched and so it was close for the five sets. I do agree it was the best slam final this year and maybe the best match.

The Wimbledon final - I think Murray was good for that one and a half sets, but once Fed
fought back to win the second set and then when they closed the roof, it was Fed all the way.

luckystar , 12/9/12 1:16 AM

I found the FO final to be the best final this year.


Conspirator , 12/9/12 1:32 AM

To me the FO final came in second. I feel Rafa outplayed Nole for the first two sets and strongly feel that had it not for the rain, Rafa would most likely win in straight sets. It was the rain that caused the twist and turn for the match and added the drama; though I was never in doubt that Rafa would win in the end.

I'll put AO final as the best, followed by FO, then Wimbledon and last USO final.

luckystar , 12/9/12 1:44 AM

I agree with luck about the FO final coming in second. Notwithstanding the historic nature of this win, I believe that the AO final had so much suspense with each player gaining and losing momentum at different points in the match. Also, that match was much more evenly contested, in my opinion.

As lucky said, if not for the rain Rafa would have won that final in three sets. He dominated easily in the first two sets. Playing in that heavy rain and hitting a wet, heavy ball changed the conditions dramatically. They should have suspended play sooner. But I believe that the outcome was never in doubt. Rafa's superiority on clay clearly gave him the advantage over Nole.

But the result of the AO final was very much in doubt. Rafa fighting back in that fourth set when he seemed on the brink of losing, is what great matches are all about. I also thought that the quality of the shot making was brilliant from both men. There were long rallies with breathtaking shots that would have been winners against anyone else.

I would put the FO final second. I think that I would Murray's win at the USO third.

Nativenewyorker , 12/9/12 2:37 AM

my slam final rankings (overall ranking in parentheses) are:

1. Aussie Open (No. 1 match overall)
2. US Open final (No. 5 or 6 overall)
3. French Open final (not in the Top 10)
4. Wimbledon final (not in the Top 15)

RickyDimon , 12/9/12 3:33 AM

1. FO final except that the wrong person won
2. AO Final (except that the wrong person won)

nadline , 12/9/12 7:30 PM

^^^^ :confused:

RickyDimon , 12/9/12 10:46 PM

Either a typo or hell just froze over.

Conspirator , 12/9/12 11:46 PM

nadline's acc must've been hacked lol

willmw101 , 12/10/12 12:37 AM

The conditions were the same for both guys at both AO and FO matches. Thus, the if this and if that, and everything else is just *if*l thinking. Nadal's the clay expert who's able to win his clay matches easily, and with clay, depending on the consistency of the surface, which varies from tournament to tournament, should not be affected when the balls pick up some moisture. Being an expert on a surface means adaptation to the surface and being able to conquer it and coming out as the winner.

scoretracker , 12/10/12 2:12 AM

well, the effect the rain had on the court and the balls is seperate thing. Another vital factor was the 'break' djokovic got due to that rai ndelay which surely allowed him to regroup ! this is an obvious advantage any player would get from a rain delay, just like federer got it in wimbledon 2008 final. This is why many believe that this break reduced rafa's stranglehold on the match and allowed nole to garner enough belief and momentum. Similarly, rafa benifitted from a break created by the rain delay in the 4th set ! that allowed rafa to regroup so it was all even in the end ! djokovic himself said rain helped both at diff times so all even ! so yes, the match may well have been over IF there was no rain...anyway, rafa won convincingly so whatever...

regarding the soaked up court and wet balls, yes rafa's game is a little more effective in dry conditions but he is a beast on any conditions on clay but sometimes, flat hitting can be benefitted by these conditions ! another example is the federer vs soderling 2010 qtr , fed was leading but the heavy court after the rain allowed soderling to dictate and made it tough for fed to defend ! so it can happen ...but rafa is rafa on clay of couse, you can only pray for suitable conditions and heavy inclunation of luck in your favor to be able to challenge rafa in an RG final, let alone win it !

Here is a another eye-opener :P

#RG 2008

vamosrafa , 12/10/12 2:56 AM

hello to NNY and luckystar, great to see you two posting, big cheers :D

vamosrafa , 12/10/12 2:58 AM


I said the same thing to you on the other thread! You are a welcome voice of reason and your knowledge and understanding of the game, makes it a joy to chat with you.

You basically said what I was going to say about the change in conditions at the 2012 RG final. You analyzed the factors at play in that match quite well. It's true that the break itself from the rain dela would help Nole. Thank you for bringing up that this kind of advantage can be true for all players, as it was in the 2008 Wimbledon.

As you said, Rafa got the advantage with the break for the rain delay in the fourth set at the RG final. So it kind of did even out. The bottom line is that Rafa wasn't going to lose that a match on clay when he was up two sets. It just took a little longer in the end.

I was particularly interested in your analysis of the soaked court and wet balls. Thank you for saying that flat hitters can benefit from these conditions as opposed to a player like Rafa who relies on topspin. Again you brought in an excellent example in referencing the Fed/Sod 2010 quarterfinal match. I well remember the Fed fans bemoaning the conditions as being advantageous to Sod's game. So this idea that conditions are always the same for both players is simply not accurate. Of course players have to be prepared and adjust as well as possible, but to pretend that weather may not influence the result of match is quite disingenuous.

Rain breaks, heavy wet conditions can and do affect the players and their games. I agree that for Rafa, it's so difficult to take him out on clay.

Please stay here and post your thoughts more often! Your knowledge of the game and great understanding, is very much appreciated! :)

Nativenewyorker , 12/10/12 4:48 AM

The playing surface may be the same for both, but their styles could be different, if not why Rafa with his top spin is so good on clay?? Rafa is always the superior player on clay, and under any condition he would still win. Just because Nole won one set at the FO final didn't mean that he would go on to win the whole thing even if they continued playing on that rainy Sunday. The difference was only whether Rafa would win in three or four sets, IMO.

luckystar , 12/10/12 1:31 PM

Hello vamosrafa, nice hearing from you.

luckystar , 12/10/12 1:58 PM erling-shocker/45629/

An article which just captures that Nadal was not 100% during this year' s RG. He's a real champion and this interview just shows that he just was'nt physically there in Wimby.

fedexal , 12/10/12 4:24 PM

There was a Rafa interview posted on vb in which he said that the loss to Rosol was foretold by the condition of his knees. He also said that there is no comparison between the loss to Rosol and the loss to Soderling at RG in the fourth round in 2009. Rafa said that in the match with Soderling, he was at least able to compete, but in the match with Rosol his knees were such that he couldn't.

That says something, because he still managed to take Rosol to five sets. That was sheer will power on his part. If anything, I believe that Rafa has always tried to hide his injuries or play them down. The truth is that he got through RG with infiltration of his knee, which as he said is not a good thing.

I was thinking about posting that interview on this site. If anyone wants to read it, let me know.

Nativenewyorker , 12/10/12 9:32 PM

thanks for the kind words NNY :) you supplemented my arguments really well and I really appreciated your contributions too !

We all know rafa is RAFA on clay, players can just hope they have the luckiest day of their lives and rafa is either suffering from an injury or totally having an off day or they can pray for soem serious weather intervention that can temporarily take advantages from rafa...but as lucky said, even the weather factors have a temporary effect, rafa is able to acclimate and get the W eventually :) There is no denying that rafa's best on clay is good enough to take down anyone in straight sets ! VAMOS RAFA ! we are sooo eagerly waiting

vamosrafa , 12/11/12 1:14 AM

NNY - link it

RickyDimon , 12/11/12 6:41 AM

Nativenewyorker , 12/11/12 7:41 AM

Sorry to everyone for the length of my previous post. But it was the only way to get it with the English translation. The original link had the interview in Spanish. I still think it's worth the time to read. It's always good to hear Rafa's thoughts.

Nativenewyorker , 12/11/12 7:42 AM


RickyDimon , 12/11/12 8:53 AM

NNY: You dont have to apologise for the length. It is far more revealing to read a transcipt of a conversation when he is speaking at length in Spanish and to gain an insight into how he has approached the enforced absence and also the frank admission he knew how bad his knee was before Wimbledon but still went ahead and played.

Also his remark when asked about the immediate future: ' What I cannot predict is whether my knee will be better or worse and whether I'll win more or less matches. It's not about the tournaments you play, but about the matches you get to dispute.'

What he is making patently clear is in future he will not knowlingly take the risks he has taken in the past and will be prepared to alter his schedule if necessary. He is intent on prolonging his career.

ed251137 , 12/11/12 8:56 AM

Thanks NNY for the transcript. I hope he's doing well in his recovering and practising. I certainly hope to see him prolonging his tennis career with this rest and recuperation. I also hope to see him in other sports, golf maybe, when his tennis career is over. He loves sports and so it's only fitting that he'll be involved in sports all his life time.

luckystar , 12/11/12 9:21 AM

ed and lucky,

Thanks for your kind words. I feel much better knowing that you were happy to read it. I thought it was an interesting interview and thought it might be a good read. Rafa also discussed the anti-doping tests and I really liked hearing what he had to say about it.

I do think that Rafa will take good care of his body. He went through a lot with this long layoff and won't want to throw all that treatment and hard work out the window or risk it unnecessarily.

I didn't realize just how bad his knee was when he played at Wimbledon. The literal translation of his words was powerful - "The defeat to Rosol was a death foretold for me." I understand more now why he decided to play at Wimbledon, as he said in the heat of the moment. He was coming off a historic victory at RG and wanted to try to keep on going. I also think he wanted to show up and play, rather than withdraw entirely from the tournament as he did in 2009. But the fact that he knew he had no chance to win that match, makes his performance in it even more extraordinary. He still fought all the way. It's like part of his DNA. The fact that he got to a fifth set shows how much of a fighter he is.

When I read this interview, I thought it was worth putting it up here for other Rafa fans to read. It's great to hear his thoughts about all that has happened.

Nativenewyorker , 12/11/12 10:05 AM

NNY: The above few comments should perhaps have been on the Feeling the Pain thread. Poor Djokovic is not getting a look in!

Just goes to show how difficult it is to discuss tennis without reference to Rafa.

ed251137 , 12/11/12 10:32 AM

Happy to read this article.

I get the sense that Rafa feels compelled to defend the drug accusations he is very well aware there are against him!! It's just so sad and unfair!!

Looking forward to seeing you next year Rafa!! Miss you loads!!!

Hope your knees get well and that you have a successful 2013 and beyond! MWAH!


Monalysa , 12/11/12 6:56 PM

Thanks for the post nny. Rafa being candid as usual.


Conspirator , 12/11/12 7:18 PM

Good article, NNY. I can't blame him for being irritated at the drug testing. 6:20 am is ridiculous.

Good to see that he's feeling optimistic.

cherylmurray , 12/11/12 7:21 PM

thank you nny,
good to hear a lengthy interview with Rafa again
he sounds good, and himself as always

the bit about his knee being infiltrated at RG, I guess that was supposed to be translated as inflamed

chlorostoma , 12/11/12 7:39 PM

Chloro: it came out soon after RG that he had needed pain-killing injections to get through the tournament. Evidence once more how dangerous it is to mask the pain and play on when carrying a serious injury. But he has been doing this for years, as of course do many athletes. In Rafa's case it finally caught up with him.

Drug testing on two consecutive days, and arriving in advance of the prescribed time, smacks of WADA flexing their muscles by hounding a high-profile player just to prove they are being diligent in the face of the criticisms levelled at them recently. See their statement below:

ed251137 , 12/11/12 10:47 PM

Correction: The last sentence should read:

' the face of criticisms levelled at the ITF/ATP/WTA anti-doping programme recently. See the WADA statement below.'

ed251137 , 12/11/12 10:59 PM

My understanding is that infiltration is the same as cortisone injections in this country. That would help the pain and inflammation but doesn't address the root of the problem. As long as Rafa was playing and putting strain and pressure on the injured knee, then he was going to be in trouble.

Regarding WADA going after someone like Rafa in an inconvenient way, one would hope that this would end the endless cheap shots about him. But I am not holding my breath!

Nativenewyorker , 12/11/12 11:09 PM

To understand how onerous it is for the top 50 to comply with the requirements of the programme - see the following guidelines issued for 2013.

OK for players with a team of personal assistants looking after the admin side of their lives. For the guys who do not have a huge entourage the logistics of filing this information must be a nightmare.

ed251137 , 12/11/12 11:18 PM

Wow. Just...Wow!

It's funny that I didn't fully appreciate this match until I read the linked Tiggy article and watched the highlights. When all of these points from a 6 hour match are condensed into this 20-minute video, it is simply amazing what these two did on the court in last year's final.

It's hard as a fan for me to go back and watch a slam final that Rafa lost but these highlights are phenomenal. I'll move it up to No. 3 (because Rafa lost) behind the FO final and Raferer AO12 SF.


Conspirator , 12/21/12 2:39 PM

never too late to get on the bandwagon


RickyDimon , 12/21/12 3:23 PM

Wrong again RD.


Conspirator , 12/21/12 5:51 PM

ed, would you mind posting the WADA statement, I am unable to access it.


nadline , 12/21/12 7:15 PM

I downloaded it as a PDF document from the ITF site so cant reproduce any of the relevant passages for you. This is the full url if that helps. _62697_original.PDF

ed251137 , 12/22/12 9:22 AM


nadline , 12/22/12 5:30 PM

Gawd this match was a horrendous, monotonous bore and i don't care what any of you say!!!
It probably f***ed Nadal's knees for the rest of the ever up until now too!
Or at least got the ball rolling.
If it was so good then have any of you actually watched it again bar some very truncated highlight reel. Be honest.
They need to change the rules (including time violations enforcement) and speed up this court a bit.
There is no way that these kind of matches will develop the game of tennis going on.
Quite the opposite probably.
Sorry but, come on!

Twinge , 12/24/12 2:51 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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