Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Greatest match of my life: Djokovic

Rafael Nadal calls the Australian Open final as his toughest match

World No.1 Novak Djokovic believes the Australian Open final victory over Spaniard Rafael Nadal was the greatest of his life and the match would be etched in his memory forever. “I think under the circumstances definitely, this was the greatest match I ever played,” Djokovic said.

“The match that could have gone either way; the match that almost went six hours and adding to all that is a grand slam final and winning against the biggest rival. It was worth it.

All this effort that we both put in last night on the tennis court. Something we will both remember forever.” The Serb beat the World No.2 in a marathon final that lasted close to six hours. Djokovic won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 for his third title here and second successive.

Djokovic said the Melbourne triumph had still not sunk in and he felt proud of what he had achieved in the epic five-setter. “I think it is still too early but I guess now I will have the time to enjoy the success because it’s not just winning a Grand Slam, it’s really more than that and in the way we played yesterday, it makes me feel very proud of what I have achieved.”

The five-time Grand Slam champion also thanked his girlfriend Jelena Ristic for her support. Jelena was seen cheering every point Djokovic won and stood up and lent her voice every time the Serb was down. “We have been together for six or seven years and we have lots of support and understanding for each other. It was great to have her around,” he said.

Toughest match ever played: Nadal
World No.2 Rafael Nadal, who lost to Serb Novak Djokovic in a marathon Australian Open tennis final Sunday, has dubbed the match as the toughest he has ever played. Nadal lost to the World No.1, 7-5, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6(7-5), 5-7 in five hours and 53 minutes in the longest Grand Slam final in history.

“Physically (it) was the toughest match I ever played. I am tired,” an exhausted Nadal said after the men’s event final. (It was) a pleasure.

That means that I did a lot of things well to compete against (the) best players of the world and winning (against) them, losing (against) them, but always having tough matches.”

The Spaniard compared the Australian Open loss against Djokovic to the epic five set win over Roger Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon.
“(The) 2008 Wimbledon final and this one was very special. For me it was a little bit more special – the 2008 (Wimbledon final).”

“But I really understand that (Australian Open) was a really special match, and probably a match that is going be in my mind not because I lost, no, because the way that we played. So (I am) happy to be part of these two great matches.”

“I wanted to win, but I am happy about how I did. I had my chances against the best player (in) the world today. I played one against one.” Nadal had many chances to take the match, especially one such moment came in the final set when he was 4-2 and 30-15 up on serve. However, he missed an easy backhand pass and allowed Djokovic to break his serve.

“Just accept (the loss). I think we played a great tennis match. It was I think a very good show, my opinion. I enjoyed being part of this event and this match,” he said. “Yeah, I had big chance for the 5-2, yes. I had that easy passing shot with the backhand. I missed it, yes, but I was 4-3 love-40 in the fourth, too. Anything can happen when the match is there.”

The Spaniard, who had hailed Roger Federer as the greatest player of all time after defeating him in the semi-final, said that Djokovic was well on his way to becoming one of the greats.

“Now he’s the best of the world,” Nadal said.
“That’s how great it is. Five Grand Slams, so the history says that he has a part in the history today winning five Grand Slams, winning a lot of titles, number one of the world. We’ll see where he arrives.”

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