When Novak Djokovic bested Rafael Nadal in the most epic Australian Open final

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When Novak Djokovic bested Rafael Nadal in the most epic Australian Open final

On Sunday, Rafael Nadal will fight for his 21st Major title, facing Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final. A decade ago, the Spaniard lost an epic title match in Melbourne, falling to Novak Djokovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 in five hours and 53 minutes!

Two great rivals pushed each other to the limits in the most extended Open era Major final, giving their everything and barely standing during the trophy ceremony. Novak prevailed over Andy Murray 7-5 in the deciding set and preserved energy for the most brutal clash in a career, staying calm in the closing stages to lift the fifth Major crown.

Nadal fought like a lion and forced a decider to gain a massive boost. The Spaniard led 4-2, 30-15 in the fifth set when he missed a routine backhand that most likely cost him the second Australian Open crown. Djokovic created 20 break chances, converted seven and gave serve away four times.

The Serb had more winners and forced more mistakes from the Spaniard. He forged his victory in the mid-range exchanges as nothing could separate them in the quickest and most extended rallies.

Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the 2012 Australian Open final.

They needed 40 minutes to complete the first six games, with Nadal leading 4-2 before Djokovic claimed the next three games to open a 5-4 gap.

Rafa grabbed another break at 5-5 when Novak sent a backhand long and converted his third set point in the next game for 7-5 after an hour and 20 minutes! Djokovic responded with a break in the second set's game ten after Nadal's costly double to level the overall score at 1-1 after almost two and a half hours of a titanic battle.

With momentum on his side, Djokovic grabbed the third set 6-2 and moved closer to the finish line, hoping to seal the deal in the fourth. Instead, Nadal kept fighting and took it in the tie break after almost 90 minutes to send the match into a decider and add more drama and excitement.

Rafa missed that chance to open a 5-2 gap and allowed Novak to break back and gain a boost. The Spaniard suffered another break at 5-5 when his slice hit the net to push the Serb ahead. Serving for the victory, Djokovic saved a break point in game 12 and sealed the deal with a forehand winner to celebrate one of his career's brightest moments.