Stupendous. Pick another word from the dictionary of excellence and it will fall short of doing justice to what the world’s two best tennis players served up for an astonishing five hours and 53 minutes in the final of the 2012 Australian Open…It was the 100th anniversary of this tournament, and Novak Djokovic, who somehow managed to hold on to his crown, celebrated in a manner that will be talked of down the ages.
Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal — his predecessor as world No. 1 — 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5.
The fact that there were still well more than 14,000 people in Rod Laver Arena at 1:40 on a Monday morning says everything one needs to know about just how riveting this duel was; how extraordinary the level of skill and commitment from both men as they refused to bow to whatever the scoreboard was saying at the time and fought on, giving every last drop of energy in their bodies.
For Djokovic to have prevailed — after needing four hours and 50 minutes to beat Andy Murray in Friday’s semifinal — makes him superhuman.