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Djokovic tops Nadal in marathon Australian final

January 29, 2012 10:02 AM

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Novak Djokovic wore down Rafael Nadal in the longest Grand Slam singles final in the history of professional tennis Sunday, winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 after 5 hours, 53 minutes to claim his third Australian Open title.

Djokovic sealed victory at 1:37 a.m. local time and became the fifth man since the Open Era began in 1968 to win three straight Grand Slam finals.

The 24-year-old Djokovic tore off his shirt in celebration after one of the most dramatic finals in the history of the game. He went to his support camp and repeatedly thumped the side of the arena in delight and relief.

Djokovic's win maintained his mastery of Nadal, who has lost seven straight finals against the Serb since March.

Nadal became the first man in the Open Era to drop three straight major finals after losing to Djokovic at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year.

After coming from 5-3 down to win the fourth-set tiebreaker, Nadal was up a break at 4-2 in the fifth set while Djokovic appeared to be tiring.

But the top-ranked Djokovic, who needed almost five hours to win his semifinal against Andy Murray, somehow responded. He broke for a 6-5 lead and saved a break point before finally claiming the win.

The previous longest major singles final was Mats Wilander's win over Ivan Lendl at the U.S. Open in 1988, which lasted 4 hours, 54 minutes.

The longest Australian Open final also involved Wilander in 1988, when the Swede beat Pat Cash in 4:27.

 

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