MELBOURNE, Jan 29 (Agencies): Novak Djokovic outlasted Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 to claim his third Australian Open after the longest final in Grand Slam history at a sweltering Melbourne Park.
With temperatures reaching well over 30 degrees at the outset of the match on Rod Laver Arena, it was Serbia�s Djokovic who kept his cool in the key moments as he was broken by Nadal in the final set only to break his opponent twice in an astonishing contest that ran for five hours and 50 minutes.
It will be recalled as one of the greatest finals the sport has witnessed with neither man willing to wilt in the face of a barrage of baseline bullets.
Djokovic�s ability to finally muzzle Nadal�s best efforts illustrates why he is his sport�s undisputed number one.
It came despite the best intentions of Nadal to make a fight of the final by somehow winning the fourth set 7-5 on a tie-break having seen his game dismantled in the second and third set by the ferocity of Djokovic�s groundstrokes. Nadal is officially number two in the world, but should take enormous heart from his performance despite losing a seventh straight match to his nemesis.
Djokovic becomes the fifth man to win three straight Grand Slams having throttled Nadal in the Wimbledon and US Open finals last year.
He joins Nadal, Rod Laver, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer as the only men to win three straight majors since the Open era began in 1968. He has snared four out of the past five Grand Slams among his overall haul of five, but this was a close run thing. Much closer than many had predicted beforehand.
Djokovic was pushed to five sets by British number one Andy Murray in the semi-finals on Friday, but showed few signs of sluggishness in beating down Nadal�s challenge after losing a fairly mediocre first set.