Novak Djokovic Wins Australian Open 2012 Men’s Singles Title

Australian Open 2012
By Hiland Doolittle, January 29th, 2012

Novak Djokovic Sinks Rafa Nadal

In one of the most unforgettable Grand Slam Championships in history, top ranked Novak Djokovic found just enough energy to overcome a fifth set break and overcome his biggest challenger, Rafael Nadal. The fans at the packed Rod Laver Arena got more than their money’s worth in a thrilling five set, five hour 55 minute battle that often left the fans gasping for air.

Novak Djokovic Wins Australian Open 2012 Championship

Novak Djokovic Wins Australian Open 2012 Championship

The 2012 Australian Open line score read 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in favor of Serbia’s biggest celebrity Novak Djokovic. This was a match where every point was contested. This was a match where both players switched roles from offense to defense several times in each point. This was a match where every shot had a purpose. This was a true test of grit and endurance. This was a match where every shot had a purpose. Yes, there is a line score and fascinating statistics but they do not tell the story of the longest Grand Slam final in history.

This was a match that the competitors will long remember. This match had a winner in defending champion Novak Djokovic and a loser in Rafa Nadal. The biggest winner was the millions of fans that were either at Rod Laver Arena or watching on television from all corners of the globe.

This was match of bold ground strokes, incredible baseline play and unbelievable skills and endurance. This was Ali – Frazier. This was Brady – Manning, the Yankees and the Red Sox, Seabiscuit and War Admiral. This match was the most riveting tennis match in history.

Rafael Nadal

Today’s tennis is so powerful. Returns of serve cross the net at more than 90 mph. Typical serves travel at 120 mph. Two-handed backhands are the weapon of choice. The ball travels close to the net. Players are drawn to the net but it is not the position of choice.

Add to the power game, 128 highly fit and tirelessly trained athletes and have them go at each other for two weeks letting the strong survive and you have a formula for a Grand Slam tennis tournament. When there are just two players left standing, put them in a filled arena live with passion and national pride and in the middle of the Australian summer and ask them to fight to the end. Now, you have an Australian Open Championship match between Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

After Djokovic outlasted Andy Murray in a four-hour 50-minute battle on Friday night. Nadal has quieted Roger Federer on Thursday. Analysts worried that Djokovic would not recover from a fierce test and be ready to play on Sunday.

Djokovic did start slowly and Nadal appeared to have an edge. In the first set, the play was erratic as the players felt their way. Djokovic made up for an early break to get to 5-5. Nadal then won games 11 and 12 to claim the first set.

What seemed clear was that both players expected to go the distance. It was just assumed that 5 glorious sets would decide the 2012 championship. Djokovic asserted himself in sets two and three and looked on his way to defend his title in four.

Rafa Nadal does not go away quietly. In fact, he plays his best when he is against the ropes. In the 88-minute fourth set, Nadal was trailing 3-4 and 0-40. Djokovic had seized the momentum and was ready to finish off the Spaniard. With his back against the wall, Nadal came out swinging. He saved three beak points and served out the game. Those five consecutive points added another dimension to an already spectacular match.

After a ten-minute rain delay, Djokovic held and was one-game away from successfully defending his title. But, Nadal held his ground and took new energy into the 7-6 (5) tiebreaker.

From the outset of the fifth set, Nadal had the momentum and won a break to serve at 4-2. Serving with the break and up 30-15, the marathon changed on one shot. Nadal had Djokovic on the move and had a sitting Djokovic retrieve with a court filled with empty space. Amazingly, Nadal misfired, hitting the ball wide. A shocked crowd gasped.

Djokovic saw light. He went on to break and then held to get the match back on serve. At 5-5, Djokovic held and subdued the challenge by breaking the spent Nadal, who will undoubtedly have nightmares about that missed open-court backhand.

Yet, Nadal acquitted himself well. Unlike last year when Djokovic’s play caught him by surprise, Nadal changed his strategy. He served well, although his inability to hold his second serve was the difference in the match. The 2012 Nadal was aggressive where the 2011 Nadal was defensive.

The Spaniard has now lost 7 consecutive final matches to Djokovic. Four were Grand Slam finals. Djokovic has now won five Grand Slam titles and he has championed Melbourne three times.

There is little question that these two combatants will meet again in other Grand Slams. Nadal lost this one but restored a measure of confidence. Novak continued his well-deserved dominance over the tennis world and remains ready for every challenge.


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