• Australian Open, Day 14

What They Said

ESPN staff
January 29, 2012 « Djokovic fends off Nadal to defend Aus Open crown | Chartbeat test »
Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7(5) 7-5 in five hours and 53 minutes © PA Photos
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An emotional Novak Djokovic rated his his Australian Open win as one of the greatest victories of his career, battling for nearly six hours before triumphing 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7(5) 7-5. It was 1:30am local time when the match finished, but Rod Laver Arena was still packed as the crowd witnessed the longest grand slam final of the Open era.

"Wimbledon is right up there next to this one because it's just the tournament that I always dreamed of winning. But this one I think comes out on the top because just the fact that we played almost six hours is incredible, incredible. I think it's probably the longest finals in the history of all grand slams, and just to hear that fact is making me cry, really.

"I'm very proud just to be part of this history, part of the elite of the players that have won this tournament for several times, and I was very flattered to be playing in front of Rod Laver, in front of the all-time greats, and in front of 15,000 people that stayed until 1:30 am."

Rafael Nadal came up agonisingly short as Djokovic won a third Australian Open title after the longest match in Australian Open history, but he admitted it was an hour to play in one of the all-time classics.

"Physically was the toughest match I ever played. I think we played a great tennis match. I enjoyed being part of this event and this match. I wanted to win, but I am happy about how I did. I had my chances against the best player of the world today. I played one against one. I didn't play at lower level than him for a long time, so that's a very positive thing for me. The important thing for me, is during all of 2011 I didn't play as well as this."

Bethanie Mattek-Sands admitted she was excited about the prospect of having her photo on the wall at Rod Laver Arena after she and Horia Tecau beat Leander Paes and Elena Vesnina to win the mixed doubles title.

"It feels awesome. It was my first final but I wasn't too nervous. I just kind of trusted my partner and felt good out there. Elena and Leander are good doubles players. They came back in the second set, but we fought it out in the tiebreaker. So it feels pretty good to have a trophy. We get our picture up in the hallway next year."

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