2012 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic.
2012 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic. Getty Images Sport - Cameron Spencer

Djokovic wins Open thriller

HOW does Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic?

It will be a question the Spaniard torments himself with after Djokovic outlasted Nadal in a five-set epic to win back-to-back Australian Open titles.

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Lasting just shy of six hours - the longest final in Open history - the match ebbed and flowed between the world number one and two before the reigning champion finally felled Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5.

Victory was not only Djokovic's third Grand Slam triumph in a row, but in each of those finals, the Serbian has faced and defeated the same man - Nadal.

Despite recent history and a losing record, Nadal stirred the imagination of breaking his drought against Djokovic, taking the first set after breaking in the ninth game.

But Djokovic roared back, taking the next two sets to leave Nadal battered, bewildered and on the edge of another final defeat.

However, this final did not break any records due to its lack of twists and turns, and so it was that Nadal took the match to a fifth and deciding set, claiming the fourth in a tie-break.

The two combatants - wearied and staggering - slugged it out point by point, game by game, until Djokovic grabbed the important break in the eleventh game.

Nadal made Djokovic sweat as he tried to serve for the match, but with one final spur of energy, Djokovic sent the Spaniard the wrong way and dropped to the court in the knowledge he was now a three-time Australian Open champion.



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