Novak Djokovic collapses on the ground after defeating Rafael Nadal to win the 2012 Australian Open men's final. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
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That completes our live coverage of the 2012 Australian Open men's final. We hope you enjoyed the match - it is sure to be remembered as one of the greatest grand slam finals.
2012 Australian Open men's final - 1-Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. 2-Rafael Nadal (ESP) 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5
Australian Open 2012, Men's Final
Novak Djokovic poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup and the clock after winning the Australian Open. Photo: Getty Images
2.25am: A look at the statistics shows it was a fairly even final. Djokovic won a total of 193 points (compared to 176 for Nadal) and hit 57 winners to Nadal's 44. There was little separating both players in the unforced errors department - Nadal had 71 unforced errors, two more than Djokovic who had 69. The telling statistics were break point conversions (Djokovic converted seven times from 20 opportunities, while Nadal converted four times from six opportunities) and points won on second serve (Djokovic finished with 63 per cent, while Nadal finished with 45 per cent). Either player could have won the championship in that fifth set, but the world No. 1 had the answers when it mattered. He will now head into the French Open with a chance to win all four grand slams in a row. What did you think of the final? Leave a comment here.
2.00am: Djokovic takes possession of the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup. The world No. 1 has a message for Nadal during his acceptance speech: "We made history tonight and unfortunately there couldn't be two winners tonight".
1.56am: Nadal smiles and hugs Rod Laver as he takes to the podium. Gracious in defeat, the Spaniard congratulates Djokovic and says the Serb's team "is doing something fantastic". Nadal says even though he lost the historic final, it was "really special for me".
1.50am: It's official - that was the longest grand slam final in history.
1.42am: Djokovic falls to the ground and lies down in jubilation after successfully defending his Australian Open title. It was an epic final, the likes of which we've never seen at Melbourne Park. It took just shy of six hours (five hours and 53 minutes) for a winner to emerge. In the end, it was the world No. 1 who prevailed. He has now won the past three grand slams in a row (following Wimbledon and the US Open).
1.37am: DJOKOVIC WINS THE 2012 AUSTRALIAN OPEN IN FIVE SETS.
1.36am: A Nadal shot catches the tape and lands wide. Championship point for Djokovic.
1.35am: Djokovic saves the break point.
1.34am: A tense rally which ends when Djokovic reaches for a backhand and pushes it into the net. A break point for Nadal at 30-40.
1.33am: Djokovic reaches for a smash, but hits the ball into the bottom of the net. It's level at 30-30.
1.32am: Djokovic pushes a ball long and it's 30-15.
1.31am: Nadal reaches a Djokovic serve down the 'T', but can't get it over the net. It's 30-0.
1.30am: Another long rally and Nadal nets a backhand. Djokovic leads 15-0 on serve.
1.28am: The defending champion has the break and will serve for the title.
1.27am: Nadal is having words with the umpire. It seems he wan't happy with a line call. Regardless, Djokovic has a break point.
1.25am: Djokovic has a break point (Nadal nets a forehand hit on the run). Nadal's first serve is a fault. He serves the second out wide and was in command of the point from then on. Djokovic hits a ball wide. It's at deuce.
1.23am: Djokovic has a chance here - he's up 15-30 on the Nadal serve. Nadal gets to 30-30 with Djokovic pushing a ball wide off a volley from the Spaniard.
1.21am: A top rally from both players, but Nadal wins out when he finds the line with a perfect forehand on the run. He's up 15-0 on serve.
1.20am: Djokovic hits a forehand winner to hold serve. He levels the set at 5-5.
1.19am: Djokovic serves a double fault and it's 40-15.
1.17am: This final has now been going for five-and-a-half hours. Djokovic does enough to win the first point during his service game. He also takes the next point, with Nadal hitting a forehand into the net.
1.15am: Nadal goes on to hold and leads 5-4 in the deciding set.
1.14am: A rare sight from Nadal - he's rushed into the net after a superb serve. Djokovic's return doesn't make it over the net.
1.13am: Djokovic earns a break point after Nadal pushes a backhand wide. The momentum has swung again in this final.
1.12am: Nadal can hold here - he's up 40-30, but Djokovic rips a forehand return crosscourt for a winner. The game is now at deuce.
1.10am: Nadal sprays a forehand, but still has the lead 30-15 on serve.
1.07am: Both players are giving it everything they've got, and Djokovic collapses to the ground after losing a truly amazing 32-shot rally. The Serb, who pushed the ball very long to end the point, looked to be in considerable pain after the rally.
1.05am: Djokovic goes on to hold his service game, losing just the one point. The set is now level at 4-4.
1.03am: The long rallies are continuing, with Djokovic winning one there to level at 15-15 on his serve. It's amazing that both players are still going - this intense final has now gone beyond five-and-a-quarter hours.
1.00am: Djokovic has the break, but trails 3-4.
12.58am: A deep backhand from Djokovic catches Nadal, who has to slide to the ball and nets. Djokovic has a break point at 30-40.
12.56am: Djokovic, not out of this final, rips a crosscourt backhand winner.
12.54am: The Spaniard finds the line with a blistering forehand to go up 15-0 in his service game.
12.53am: Nadal has the break and takes a 4-2 lead in the final set. This is a remarkable performance from Nadal.
12.52am: Nadal shows his great defensive skills to claim a break point. Djokovic kept pushing during that point and went for a winner, but hit the ball wide.
12.49am: Djokovic is serving now and he wins the first point, but nets the ball during the next. He's not showing the confidence he exhibited earlier in the match. It's 15-15.
12.47am: Another solid service game from Nadal, who takes a 3-2 lead in the deciding set.
12.45am: We're now into the fifth hour of this Australian Open final and the defending champion is looking vulnerable. Understandably, he's looking physically exhausted. Nadal, meanwhile, has raced to 40-0 on serve and is looking very strong.
12.43am: Nadal nets a ball and Djokovic has the edge in his service game. The Serb is up 40-30 ... and levels the set.
12.40am: Nadal wins the first point on the Djokovic serve. That's a positive sign for the Spaniard.
12.38am: Nadal holds serve to love and goes up 2-1 in the fifth set. That would have to be his most comfortable service game for some time in this final.
12.37am: A tense rally opens Nadal's service game ... and the Spaniard wins the point. Djokovic pushed a ball long. Nadal wins the next two points and races ahead to 40-0 on serve.
12.34am: Djokovic responds, holding serve to level the deciding set at 1-1.
12.30am: This is a rejuvenated Nadal we're seeing here. The world No. 2 wins his service game with an ace down the 'T' and is first on the board in the fifth set. This match has been going for more than four-and-a-half hours now.
12.25am: What an incredible final this is turning out to be! Nadal drops to his knees and fires himself up after winning that set. The Spaniard looked down and out earlier, but fought his way back with grit and determination. What are your thoughts on the match so far? Leave a comment here.
12.23am: NADAL WINS THE FOURTH SET IN A TIE-BREAKER.
12.22am: Nadal claims a set point.
12.21am: Nadal levels the tie-breaker at 5-5 after Djokovic, moving into the court, hits a short ball into the net.
12.20am: Nadal gets another point, with Djokovic pushing a shot wide. The Serb still leads at 5-4 in the tie-breaker.
12.19am: Some heavy hitting from Djokovic, who wins another point in the tie-breaker with a forehand down the line. He's up 5-3.
12.18am: Nadal is challenging a call ... a shot of his was called wide. Hawk-Eye shows it was the right call and Djokovic now has a 4-3 lead in the tie-breaker.
12.17am: The tie-breaker is now level at 3-3.
12.16am: Another point to Djokovic, then another to Nadal. Both players sending balls long in those last two points. Nadal is up 3-2 in the tie-breaker.
12.14am: A great serve from Nadal sets up the next point and a few shots later he rushes into the net to send a smash into open court. Nadal is up 2-1 in the tie-breaker.
12.13am: It's level at 1-1 in the tie-breaker. Nadal dictated the last point, having Djokovic on the run.
12.12am: The Spaniard rushes into the net to get to a short ball and sends an easy shot into open court. It's level at 6-6.
12.11am: Nadal is up 40-0 now and it looks like this set is going to be decided with a tie-breaker.
12.09am: Nadal claims the first point of his service game with a top serve which Djokovic gets to, but can't return.
12.07am: Djokovic holds to go up 6-5. Nadal was very much in that game, but just couldn't get there. Nadal is serving to stay in the final now.
12.01apm: Nadal stays in the match. He holds to level at 5-5 in the fourth set and the crowd is getting behind the Spaniard.
12.00am: Two chances for Nadal to hold ... but Djokovic wins the first with a blistering forehand into open court.
11.59pm: Nadal wins the next two points to push into the lead 30-15.
11.57pm: Djokovic wins the first point on the Nadal serve and leads 0-15.
11.56pm: Djokovic holds serve to love and edges closer to defending his Australian Open title. He's up 5-4 in the fourth set.
11.53pm: Play has resumed with Djokovic to serve.
11.42pm: Nadal is firing up now. He wins the game, then pumps his fist frenetically. The set is level at 4-4 and play has just stopped (both players are at their chairs). It's appears rain is on the way. The roof of Rod Laver is being closed.
11.40pm: Djokovic has a break point at 30-40. Nadal's first serve is a fault. The Spaniard wins the point with a shot down the line that wrong-foots Djokovic.
11.39pm: The world No. 1 is playing incredible tennis right now. He just sent another ball down the line for a winner.
11.38pm: Djokovic wins the first two points off the Nadal serve and takes a 0-30 lead in this game. There seems to be no stopping the Serb.
11.34pm: Djokovic edges ahead to 4-3 in the fourth set. Nadal won the first point of that game, but let his chances slip with a string of errors.
11.31pm: A chance for Nadal to hold serve and level the set at 3-3 ... and he wins the point.
11.29pm: Nadal serves a double fault and it's 30-15.
11.28pm: Nadal is up 30-0 on serve after Djokovic hits a ball long ... but a challenge shows the ball was good. It's back to 15-0, with that point to be replayed.
11.24pm: Djokovic gets out of trouble and holds serve to go up 3-2 in the fourth set.
11.23pm: Another winner from Nadal - this time an impeccable crosscourt forehand out wide that beats Djokovic. He edges ahead again, going up 15-30 on the Djokovic serve.
11.22pm: An amazing point from Nadal, who hits a great return out wide and then pushes his next shot deep into a corner. He goes up 0-15 on the Djokovic serve.
11.20pm: A strong service game for Nadal, who loses just one point on serve. He levels at 2-2. What are your thoughts on the match so far? Leave a comment here.
11.17pm: Nadal sends a baseline smash long and it's at 15-15 on the Spaniard's serve.
11.14pm: Djokovic holds serve.
11.14pm: An ace for Djokovic takes him to 40-0.
11.12pm: The crowd erupts as Nadal sends a smash into open court to gain advantage. He goes on to hold that game and level at 1-1 in the fourth set.
11.08pm: Nadal is being forced to fight during his service game. He gets to 40-30 (after Djokovic nets a ball), but a great Djokovic return forces the error from Nadal, who pushes the ball into the net.
11.05pm: Djokovic gets another game point ... and this time he holds.
11.04pm: Djokovic wins advantage, but Nadal saves the point with a solid backhand that Djokovic can't control. The world No. 1 nets the ball. It's back to deuce.
11.02pm: Nadal is not lying down - he's fighting with every weapon he has. Down 40-15, he battles his way to deuce and pumps his fist.
11.00pm: Djokovic raises his fist into the air after winning an incredible point. Nadal was in it, hitting solid groundstrokes all over the court, but it was a simple drop shot from the world No. 1 that won the point.
10.54pm: Three set points for Djokovic on the Nadal serve. He needs just the one, ripping a forehand into open court. DJOKOVIC WINS THE THIRD SET 6-2. The Serb takes a two-sets-to-one lead in the Australian Open final. The defending champion seems unbeatable now.
10.52pm: A quick service game for Djokovic, who blasts a backhand down the line to take a 5-2 lead in the third set. Nadal will serve to stay in the set. Djokovic is firmly in control of the final right now, and seems to have all the answers for whatever challenge Nadal throws down.
10.48pm: Nadal earns advantage ... and holds. He's trailing 2-4 in the third set.
10.46pm: Nadal saves a break point on his serve and the game is at deuce.
10.44pm: This is a very different Nadal to the one we've seen in action during the tournament. He looks uncertain as to how he can work his way back into this match. What are your thoughts on the match so far? Leave a comment here.
10.41pm: Djokovic holds to love and races to a 4-1 lead in the third set.
10.35pm: Nadal is trying to pump himself up. The world No. 2 is searching for a way to gain the upper hand again. Djokovic clearly frustrated after a return is called out, only to be overruled. He earns the break when Nadal pushes a ball wide during an intense rally. Djokovic has the break and goes up 3-1.
10.30pm: The energy both players are exerting on court is incredible. Djokovic and Nadal are grunting now. Djokovic holds serve to go up 2-1 in the third set.
10.24pm: Nadal earns advantage again after a Djokovic forehand floats long. He finally closes out the game, with Djokovic netting the return. It's level at 1-1.
10.23pm: Another chance for Nadal to hold after a great serve from Nadal forces the error from Djokovic. The Spaniard pushes a ball long and it's back to deuce.
10.20pm: Djokovic is increasing the pressure on his opponent and has pushed to deuce. Nadal earns advantage, but the world No. 1 rips a forehand down the line to get it back to deuce.
10.16pm: Djokovic holds serve to love to win the first game of the third set.
10.13pm: This is quickly turning into an epic final, with the match nearing two-and-a-half hours. Djokovic is playing with much more urgency, while Nadal has switched to a more defensive game. The Serb sent a message after winning that set, pumping his fist while heading to his chair.
10.10pm: Nadal's first serve is a fault ... and so is his second. DJOKOVIC WINS THE SECOND SET 6-4.
10.08pm: It's neck and neck in the Nadal service game. Djokovic pushes to deuce, then gains advantage and a set point with a passing backhand.
10.06pm: It's 30-30 now.
10.03pm: A vital game for the Spaniard, who goes up 15-0 as Djokovic nets a groundstroke. Nadal took the heat off the ball and it worked.
10.01pm: Djokovic double faults to hand Nadal the break. The Spaniard has crept back into contention for the second set. Nadal will serve at 4-5.
10.00pm: Nadal has a chance to break now. Nadal plays a drop shot, but Djokovic reaches it. Nadal, waiting at the net, cleans up with a top volley.
9.58pm: Djokovic sends a ball wide on his first set point. He has one chance left ... but Nadal saves that with an easy forehand into open court.
9.56pm: Djokovic wins two set points with a solid volley that Nadal couldn't reach in time.
9.55pm: Nadal holds. Djokovic will serve for the second set at 5-3.
9.51pm: A chance for Nadal to hold. Djokovic rips a crosscourt forehand return to win the point ... but wait, a strange development with Nadal challenging the line call on his serve. The serve was called good, but Nadal was hoping it was long - he would then deny Djokovic the point and get a second serve. The serve was indeed in.
9.48pm: A beautiful point from Nadal takes him to 30-15 on serve. After sending a ball down the line, Nadal rushes into the net to hit a volley into open court. Djokovic could only watch that ball pass by from the other side of the court.
9.45pm: Djokovic holds to edge closer to winning the second set. The Serb won the game with a sneaky drop shot on the back of a high ball from Nadal that just made it over the net. Nadal will serve to stay in the second set.
9.42pm: What a point! After a long exchange of groundstrokes, Nadal sends a shorter ball over the net. Djokovic gets to it, but pushes the ball just wide.
9.41pm: Nadal holds to win his second game of the set. He's still in this set, but will be searching for the break here.
9.40pm: Nadal serves an ace to go up 40-15 on serve.
9.35pm: After losing the first set, Djokovic has taken control of the second. He's raced away to a 4-1 lead and looks certain of levelling the match at one set all. The world No. 1 has taken his game to another level in this set and the effort is paying off. Nadal will have to fight hard to stop this rush of games to Djokovic.
9.34pm: Nadal is fighting hard to break back here and has pushed Djokovic to 30-30. Djokovic rises to the challenge and hits a first-class forehand deep into the corner to beat Nadal.
9.30pm: Djokovic has the break to go up 3-1 in the second serve. The Serb won the break with an incredible volley that landed deep. Nadal couldn't do anything with that ball.
9.28pm: Nadal drills a backdown down the line to go up 30-15 on serve.
9.24pm: Djokovic holds. He's up 2-1 in the second set, with games on serve.
9.22pm: Djokovic is being pushed on serve - he's at 40-30. With Nadal's impressive break-point conversion result of 67 per cent in the first set, Djokovic will want to close out the game with the next point.
9.18pm: Nadal gets out of trouble and holds serve. It's level in the second set at 1-1.
9.14pm: An intense rally on Djokovic's second break-point opportunity. Nadal forces an error from Djokovic, who stretches wide and low for a backhand, but nets.
9.13pm: A real chance for Djokovic to take the upper hand in the second set. He has two break points. Nadal saves the first with a blistering forehand (hit on the run) into open court.
9.11pm: Djokovic holds to take the first game of the second set.
9.09pm: That was a fascinating first set (lasting 80 minutes), with the momentum changing several times. Nadal was ready for battle from the first point, while Djokovic seemed flat early on. The statistics are fairly even - Djokovic hit 19 unforced errors to Nadal's 17, while Nadal hit 15 winners to Djokovic's 14. The telling statistic is the break-point conversions - Nadal won 67 per cent during that first set (two breaks from three opportunities), while Djokovic won just 20 per cent (one break from five opportunities). Nadal also has the edge on serve - 76 per cent of Nadal's first serves were good, compared to 51 per cent for Djokovic.
9.03pm: Nadal earns another set point ...and this time he takes it, with Djokovic stabbing the return of serve and sending the ball long. NADAL WINS THE FIRST SET 7-5.
9.01pm: Set point for Nadal who slides to cover a deep ball from Djokovic, but pushes it long.
9.00pm: Another point to Nadal, who is covering the court extremely well. He hits a smash from the baseline and a groundstroke, before rushing into the net to finish off the point with a volley.
8.59pm: Nadal is on his way to taking the first set. He's up 30-15 on serve.
8.56pm: Djokovic falters after Nadal sends a looping forehand into a corner. The Spaniard has a chance to break and go up 6-5 in the first set ... and he does.
8.53pm: Djokovic rushes into the net and polishes off a high, short ball from Nadal with a swinging volley into open court. It's 15-15.
8.50pm: A wobbly service game for Nadal, who led 40-0 before handing a couple of free points to his opponent with errors. He blasts a forehand crosscourt to finish off the game.
8.45pm: It was tough, but Djokovic holds serve to go up 5-4 in the first set. Plenty of long rallies during that game, with points going to both players. Nadal had his chances - dictating play from a corner, he whipped a forehand into open court to get to 0-30, but couldn't run out with the game. Some better play from Djokovic, who has won the past three games in a row. Nadal will serve to stay in the set.
8.39pm: A third break point for Djokovic ... and this time he gets it, with Nadal netting a ball. The first set is level at 4-4.
8.37pm: Another chance for Djokovic, who needs to make the most of these opportunities. Nadal responds with a serve out wide that beats Djokovic.
8.35pm: Djokovic has a chance to break and level the set. He's unable to convert, though, with a well-constructed point from Nadal forcing Djokovic to float a forehand wide.
8.33pm: Nadal challenges a line call at 30-30. One of his serves was called out ... but Hawk-Eye shows the serve was good.
8.27pm: A steady service game for Djokovic, who lost just the one point. That should steady the Serb's nerves. He's staying in touch, but will need to find another level if he's to take this set from Nadal.
8.24pm: Djokovic pushes a ball wide to hand Nadal a 4-2 lead in the first set. An important game for both players. Will it be a turning point in this match?
8.22pm: Djokovic stays in the game with a textbook volley that landed short over the net.
8.20pm: Unforced errors are proving costly for the world No. 1. He had another chance to level the set, but again pushes a forehand long.
8.18pm: Djokovic responds with a deep ball, then hits a forehand winner down the line.
8.17pm: Djokovic misses another forehand, pushing the ball long to hand Nadal advantage and a chance to go up 4-2.
8.16pm: A chance to break back for Djokovic ... but a 148km/h forehand down the line from Nadal robs him of the chance.
8.09pm: Nadal takes the upper hand. He's claimed the first break of the match to go up 3-2 in the first set. The Spaniard is a great defender, but he was on the attack during that game - stepping up to return Djokovic's second serve and putting pressure on the Serb. Nadal is playing an unbelievably physical brand of tennis early in this match. Will Djokovic, who struggled physically in his semi-final against Andy Murray, be able to respond?
8.02pm: Djokovic serves an ace to go up 15-0 in the fifth game of the final.
8.00pm: An absolutely incredible point from Nadal takes him to 30-15 on serve. Nadal dictated play, sending Djokovic from one side of the baseline to the other. He goes on to hold serve.
7.58pm: Djokovic stops play during the first point of Nadal's service game to challenge a call. Djokovic believes a ball is out ... and he's right. Djokovic takes a 0-15 lead.
7.57pm: The world No. 1 gets out of trouble (Nadal had an early lead during the Djokovic service game) to hold serve. The Spaniard has come out swinging - he's playing fierce tennis and is hitting his groundstrokes with real power. Both players won points during that game with blistering forehands down the line. Djokovic is already up to four unforced errors, compared to Nadal's two.
7.52pm: Nadal makes a big statement, opening his first service game of the match with an ace down the 'T'. A steady service game for the world No. 2, who holds to love. Djokovic is still finding his rhythm, pushing one ball into the net and another two long during that game. The match is on serve and it's level at 1-1.
7.48pm: Djokovich holds, but it's a fascinating opening game. Nadal won a couple of points off the Djokovic serve.
7.40pm: Djokovich will serve to open the men's final.
7.20pm: A huge applause for Rod Laver as he holds up the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup for the crowd. He is joined on court by the nine living Australians who have won the men's title.
7.00pm: After two weeks of fierce competition, it comes down to this - world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal battle it out for the 2012 Australian Open men's title.
Tonight's match promises to be a thrilling final. Both players have been in scintillating form over the past fortnight and had an easy run to the semi-finals, dropping just one set each in their first five matches.
Djokovic's greatest test this tournament came on Friday night against Andy Murray, coming from two sets to one down to prevail 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 7-5 in a marathon semi-final that lasted almost five hours.
''It was a very physical match, almost five hours, and it's one of the best matches I've played,'' Djokovic said after the match. ''It was physically hard and emotionally, equally as hard.''
Nadal, too, was tested in his semi-final. Up against Roger Federer, the Spaniard lost the first set in a tie-breaker before going on to derail the world No. 4 and claim victory in four sets 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.
Nadal, who already has 10 grand slam titles to his name, has had an extra day to recover from his semi-final, but will it give the world No. 2 a significant advantage? Only time will tell.
A quick look at the head-to-head record shows Nadal has the slight edge - he has won 16 matches to Djokovic's 13. But it was a vastly different story last year, with Djokovic the victor in all six of their encounters, including the Wimbledon final (6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3) and US Open final (6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1).
"Now is another big, big test. I don't know if I am enough ready to win the match ... but I believe that I can do it, and I am going to fight for it," Nadal said yesterday.
And Djokovic, eager to win his fifth grand slam title, knows that.
''That's why he's one of the best players to ever play this game. He's never giving up. He has a fighting spirit. He has very few weaknesses. Yeah, I mean, he's very much eager and motivated to win the title - as much as I am. It's the final. It's unpredictable what's going to happen," the 24-year-old Serbian said.
Both players are fierce competitors and this is bound to be a tough encounter, with Nadal known to have one of the most physical games on tour. This final will be a beauty.
What are your predictions for the final? Leave a comment here.
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