MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic admitted that he needed all of his physical and mental resources to rally from 4-2 down in the final set to sting Rafael Nadal for a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5 victory in an epic Australian Open final.
“Just the fact that we played almost six hours is incredible, incredible,” said the Serb, winner of the longest final in Grand Slam history at 5 hours, 53 minutes.
“The longest finals in the history of all Grand Slams … just to hear that fact is making me cry, really,” added the world’s No. 1 player, who extended his dominance over Nadal to victories in their last seven matches – all of them finals and three of that number Grand Slams.
“I’m very proud just to be part of history, part of the elite of the players that have won this tournament for several times,” said the three-time Melbourne champion who also won in 2008 and a year ago.
Djokovic said that fighting beyond the pain and endurance barrier over 10-time grand Slam winner Nadal was worth every minute of struggle.
“I’m a professional tennis player,” he said. “I’m sure any other tennis player would say the same: We live for these matches. We work every day. We’re trying to dedicate all our life to this sport to come to the situation where we play six-hour matches for a Grand Slam title.”
Djokovic had to fight through a deciding set to claim his fifth Grand Slam title and his fourth in the last five played.
“It’s a final, it’s the fifth set,” the 24-year-old Serb said. “I had lots of chances to finish the match in the fourth, but he came up with some incredible serves and incredible points.
“He deserved to prolong the match in the fifth set, and then really both of us could have won, it could have gone either way. I felt my body started to slow down, but on the other hand, I was aware of the fact that he’s not feeling that great and fresh on the court.
“I tried mentally to hang in there, to hold my composure, to hold my emotions. And, you know, even when I was 4-2 down I still pushed myself up to the limit.
“It was obvious for everybody who watched the match that both of us, physically, we took the last drop of energy that we had from our bodies. It was maybe luck in some moments and a matter of wanting this more than maybe other player in the certain point. It’s just an incredible effort.”