Gutted Nadal claims Australian Open final felt like it was never going to end
Rafael Nadal thought his epic Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic was 'never going to finish'.
The match was eventually won by the Serbian 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 in five hours and 53 minutes, making it the longest grand slam final of all time and also the longest match ever played in the tournament.
It said much for both players' endurance that the quality of tennis arguably improved as the match went on.
Game over: Rafael Nadal was on the wrong end of the longest ever Grand Slam final
The defeated Spaniard said: 'You look around and you see the watch, five hours, four hours, three hours, finally five hours 53. It seems like it's never going to finish.
'But it's nice to be there fighting, trying to go to the limit. It's something I really enjoy and I always said it is good to suffer. When you are fit and have passion for the game you are able to enjoy suffering.'
Nadal was positive in defeat, and especially pleased he had been able to conquer his demons in competing well with a man who has now beaten him on seven successive occasions.
Lying down on the job: Novak Djokovic triumphed after almost six hours
The world No 2 has admitted previously
he has a mental block when playing Djokovic but he felt this match may
have gone some way to addressing the problem.
'I am very happy about my mentality, it
worked well at the big moments,' he said. 'I didn't have any mental
problems against him. I had mental problems against him in 2011 but not
Hat-trick: The title was Djokovic's third slam in a row
While there was plenty of honour for Nadal, the glory went, yet again, to Djokovic.
His victory made him just the fifth man to win three successive grand slam crowns following his victories last year at Wimbledon and the US Open. And he admitted that among all his wins, this was the best.
'Wimbledon is right up there because it was the tournament I always wanted to win but this comes out on top because we played for almost six hours, it was incredible,' he said.
'It was the longest grand slam final of all time. Just hearing that fact makes me cry. I am very proud to be a part of history, to be among the elite group of players who have won this trophy several times.
'I had a lot of chances to win it in four sets but he deserved to prolong it and then really both of us could have won the match, it could have gone either way.'