Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have played numerous historical duels since 2006. However, one encounter marks the pinnacle of their rivalry, as they never pushed each other to the limits as in the 2012 Australian Open final.
Novak prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 after five hours and 53 minutes, celebrating in the most extended Major final! Patrick Mouratoglou recalled the clash and called it the most demanding duel in tennis history, both physically and mentally.
The famous coach praised their mental strength, allowing them to go over the edge and push each other to the limits for six hours. Novak missed his chances to seal the deal in the fourth set and allowed Rafa to gain a boost.
The Spaniard led 4-2, 30-15 in the decider before missing that famous routine backhand, a shot that probably cost him the title. Djokovic created 20 break chances, converting seven and giving serve away four times. The Serb had more winners and forced more mistakes from the Spaniard.
He forged the victory in the mid-range exchanges, as nothing could separate them in the quickest and most extended rallies.
Patrick Mouratoglou praised Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Great rivals 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.
The Spaniard 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 fault to level the overall score at 1-1 and gain a boost.
Novak used that momentum and claimed the third set 6-2, overpowering Rafa and moving closer to the finish line. Nadal kept fighting and took the fourth set in the tie break after almost 90 minutes to send the match into a decider and extend an epic encounter.
Battling for every point, Rafa created a 4-2 gap and missed that crucial backhand to shift momentum to the other side. Refusing to surrender, Djokovic broke back and locked the result at 5-5 before securing a pivotal break in game 11.
Serving for the victory at 6-5, Novak saved a break point and sealed the deal with a forehand winner to celebrate one of the brightest moments of his career. “Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal went beyond their physical limits.
They are probably the best players in the game’s history when we talk about mental strength. It helped them to maintain a high level and go over their limits. It was one of the most mental matches in tennis history. They refused to surrender, and their minds brought them over the edge.
They were at their best physically, but that alone would not be enough to keep them on the court for almost six hours without dropping the pace. Two other physically prepared players would have cracked earlier due to the lack of mental aspect.
Novak and Rafa had it, and it allowed them to go that far and challenge each other,” Patrick Mouratoglou said.
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