Live Commentary: Australian Open Final: Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal
© PA Photos
Sports Mole's live, game-by-game coverage of the first grand slam final of the year in Melbourne.

Good morning and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the Australian Open Men's Singles final between the world's top two players.

Both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal came through tough semis against Andy Murray and Roger Federer respectively.

The Serb just managed to oust Murray in a five-set epic on Friday morning while Nadal saw off arch rival Federer in four sets on Thursday.

Will the extra day's rest prove the difference for the Spaniard as he looks to overhaul the ruthless Djokovic and end a run of six losses against the 24-year-old?

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The two Herculean men were on court for five hours and 53 minutes. The longest ever match in Melbourne and it's world number one Djokovic who comes out on top for his seventh consecutive victory over Rafa. He looked dominant for the majority but Nadal seemed to be on his way to victory in the fifth. An amazing encounter and surely the Serbian's best ever win. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for coverage of this astonishing final. Total points won: Djokovic 191-176 Nadal..

Novak Djokovic wins the 2012 Australian Open by defeating Rafael Nadal in five sets.

GAME SET AND MATCH! Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 7-5 Nadal

Things look ominous early on Djokovic refuses to give in and Nadal, seemingly frustrated slaps a backhand into the net. An unreturnable serve follows and the 24-year-old is two points away. At 30-15 Djokovic batters the Nadal backhand and is presented with an overhead but he drags it down and we're at 30-30. Nadal has break-back point after again seemingly doing the impossible in getting back into the point. He can't do it this time as NoDjo's backhand is too far out of reach. Deuce. And now championship point Djokovic as Nadal's backhand hits the tape and loops wide. HE'S DONE IT! A first serve and forehand seal the title for the incredible Serb.

BREAK! Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 6-5 Nadal

Is that Nadal's best forehand of the match? He curls one on-the-run into the corner before trying to repeat the feat, but failing, on the next. Djokovic moves ahead in the game by tying Rafa up at his feet once more before his lob drops wide. NoDjo earns the break point despite possibly some of Rafa's best defence. Novak is too dogged but can't make it count, allowing Nadal to make it deuce. Another break point for the Serb and Nadal must find a first serve. He does but it's not enough as the ball pings off the Serb's strings and Nadal slices into the net. Nole will serve for his third Melbourne crown.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 5-5 Nadal

The court coverage from both men is incredible, especially Nadal, although he can do little when Djokovic's backhand is so in the zone. The Serb advances to 40-0 but double faults before completing the hold with a short, angled forehand. Over to you, Rafa.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 4-5 Nadal

Game number nine of the fifth begins with a remarkable 31-stroke rally that Nadal triumphs in as Djokovic goes long. The Serbian collapses in a heap and the crowd whoop both men's efforts. Nadal looks more than ready to go again and is decisive in moving to 30-0. Djokovic pulls it back to 30-30 but Rafa replies with a big first serve down the T. "Deuce" calls Pascal Maria as Djokovic makes room for a big forehand return that finds the line. The pair trade backhands down the middle before Nadal mishits wide. Break point Djokovic. He can't convert thanks to another first serve that clips the line and Nadal goes on to hold.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 4-4 Nadal

Apparently this is now the longest match in Australian Open history. Amazing. And there could be a long way to go yet as remember, there are no tie-breaks in the final set at grand slams. Back on court, Djokovic wheezes and pants after an epic rally which he comes out on top in to make it 15-15. Nadal's next return barely makes the net and he does the same on the next before Djokovic sees out the game and we're back level.

BREAK! Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 3-4 Nadal

If Nadal does do this it will be surely be one of his all-time great wins. Perhaps only eclipsed by the famous victory over Federer at Wimbledon in 2008. He begins this game in the best possible manner with a vicious forehand to the Djokovic's right. At 30-15 Nole's volley is lame but miraculously Nadal misfires with an easy backhand. Soon after it's break-back point for the Serb. Can he pull it back? Yes he can. NoDjo yet again finds the baseline with a yorker of a return and we're back on serve.

BREAK! Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 2-4 Nadal

It's a massive point at 30-30. Corner-to-corner stuff from both men, Djokovic takes the ascendency as Nadal's shoes squeal as he hunts down every ball before NoDjo fires wide. Break point Nadal. The Spaniard makes it count by upping the pace as Djokovic pushes long.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 2-3 Nadal

Two sets all and two games all as Nadal stands on the baseline to serve. He moves 30-0 ahead as Djokovic flops over after an idle return. The Spaniard moves into double figures on the ace count and resumes his lead in the set as Djokovic slaps a return just long.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 2-2 Nadal

Djokovic looks flat despite the fact he has controlled this match for large parts with Nadal just holding on. The Spaniard has a glimpse at 15-30 but Djokovic produces two big serves to set up game point and converts as the clock ticks over to five hours of play.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 1-2 Nadal

Both men looking comfortable on serve as Nadal holds to-love. Very little to speak of in that game although Nadal does look the man on top right now.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 1-1 Nadal

Djokovic produces his eighth ace on his way to a 40-0 lead before seeing out the game as Nadal blasts long. This is the first set where Nadal has served first, will it make a difference if the Spaniard isn't constantly chasing NoDjo?

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] 1-0 Nadal

Djokovic levels at 15-15 and again lobs up over Nadal only for the Spaniard to produce a ridiculous forehand when seemingly off-balance. All Novak can do is smile and respect the Spaniard's grit. Nadal double faults at 40-15 but makes up for it with an ace to close out the game.

Set 4: Remarkable determination from Rafa. Somehow he has won that set. He sank to his knees after the wide forehand from Djokovic. Who will start the brighter in the fifth? Total points won: Djokovic 155-141 Nadal.

SET! Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7[5] Nadal

Djokovic seems to have set up championship points but Nadal's slice floats just over and Nole can only find the net with his appraoch. 5-5. And what a time for an unreturnable serve from Nadal and it's set point for the Spaniard. AND THERE IT IS! Djokovic dominates the rally but pulls a forehand wide. It'll take a decider to separate the Herculean pair.

Fourth set tie-break: Djokovic 5-4 Nadal

Now Djokovic moves clear as Nadal goes just wide. The crowd are clearly favouring the Spaniard here, they don't mind going into the early hours. Nole's just two points from victory however after another barrage of forehands. Nadal breaks back in the breaker as the Serb's forehand drifts wide.

Fourth set tie-break: Djokovic 3-3 Nadal

Nadal should have the first mini-break but sends a backhand long with the whole court to play with but does break through as Djokovic this time is wayward. He can't consolidate the break as his forehand cannons up and out off the tape. The players change ends level at 3 points apiece.

Fourth set tie-break: Djokovic 1-2 Nadal

NoDjo begins with an unreturnable before an awe-inspiring point. The pair go blow-for-blow before Nadal lets rip on the forehand and follows up with a volley that Djokovic can only push out. The crowd are loving this. 2-1 Nadal after more hitting to the corners. One of the loudest sounds in the stadium at the moment is the screech of Djokovic's trainers as he relentlessly tracks down every ball.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-6 Nadal

Four hours and 25 minutes reads the clock as Nadal again serves to stay in the match. He moves 30-0 ahead after two first serves. He groans reaching for a Djokovic ball only for the Serbian to lazily plant into the net, slumping over in disdain. Nadal sees out the game and we're going to a tie-break.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-5 Nadal

This is so hard to call, one point Nadal looks like he might do enough but Djokovic is just ruthless in extinguishing any hopes of a break. He strikes yet another backhand winner back behind the Spaniard to move 40-30 ahead before Rafa finds the net after one more exhausting rally.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 5-5 Nadal

Nadal winds up a forehand too much and Djokovic is just three points from the match but he too misfires on the next before Rafa advances to 40-15. He fails on game point one and holds off more Djokovic forehands before dipping a backhand just over to level. He pumps his fist to the air and the crowd respond. Amazing athlete.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 5-4 Nadal

Djokovic, despite being seemingly unhappy at the delay has come out all guns blazing and takes the ninth game to-love. On the final point he lunges as only he could and flattens out a mesmeric forehand down the line. Djokovic turns to face his box, holding up one finger - perhaps signifying he's the best?

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 4-4 Nadal

We're back underway at 4-4 in the fourth.

The rain is very heavy and it's far too strong to carry on. The roof is partially closed but there will be a 10-minute wait before play resumes. What looks like thousands of ball boys are scrubbing like slaves to remove the excess water from the court.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 4-4 Nadal

Djokovic wants to end this, and quickly. He latches on to both of Nadal's opening serves and produces tennis that even Nadal can do little about. Another amazing return to the baseline followed by a forehand winner set up three crucial break points for the Serb. He gets another first serve back but this time Nadal is equal in a brusing rally. Again he finds a serve that for once Nole can't put back in court. At 30-40 Nadal looks tentative before wrongfooting Djokovic with a backhand. He aces the next and another first serve seals the game. Remarkable comeback in that game and IT'S RAINING ALL OF A SUDDEN. Drama!

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 4-3 Nadal

Djokovic opens game seven with a limp drop shot that doesn't make it over before producing a 200 km/h serve to level. A first serve percentage of 78% in the fourth set of a slam final is astonishing and that's why Rafa's struggling to make an impression on the Serbian's serve. Nole moves to 40-15 and Rafa belts into the net.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 3-3 Nadal

Djokovic smiles wryly as a deep backhand is incorrectly called out. He goes on to lose the replayed point as Nadal moves 30-0 ahead only to produce his third double of the match on the next. True grit from the Spaniard at 30-30 as his floated slice just finds the corner before NoDjo nets. Nadal goes on to take the game after two brilliant angles on a serve and backhand.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 3-2 Nadal

Much better from Nadal as he goes 15-30 ahead thanks to two blistering forehand winners. He can do very little about the next two points as Djokovic gains game point which he takes as Nadal whips long.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 2-2 Nadal

The defensive lobs that Djokovic can produce at full strech are quite remarkable, so often he sends the ball up into the heavens and it will drop right on the baseline. He does just this and Nadal misses the resulting smash to make it 15-15 but the Spaniard races away with the rest of the game to make it 2-2. The Melbourne crowd, despite nearing 11.30pm local time, want to see more of this and rise as one to cheer on the Rafa hold.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 2-1 Nadal

How does Djokovic keep going like this? Two consecutive aces give him 40-0 and Rafa can't get the next back either. The Serb looks very much at home in the ascendency here as we hit three-and-a-half hours on the clock.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 1-1 Nadal

Nadal will not lay down here and his backhand is truer than ever as he moves ahead in game two of the fourth. Djokovic should go ahead at 15-15 but his backhand goes awry and Rafa looks suddenly desperate in the next, putting a few extra miles-an-hour on his shots but he can't break down the Serb. We're at deuce again on the Nadal serve after Djokovic finds another return to go just on the baseline. The Spaniard finds some extra reserve and seals the game with an ace.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 1-0 Nadal

The barrage continues as the pair produce the point of the match on the second point of the fourth which Djokovic inevitably wins. The Serb moves on to 40-15 but Rafa typically fights back to earn deuce before wasting the chance to gain a break point with a loose forehand. It's advantage Djokovic after Nadal's 40th unforced error and the Serb holds out after another wayward stroke from Rafa.

Set 3: Nadal's offering very little here as Djokovic nears his third Melbourne crown. The Serb served at 72% on the first serve and registered 11 winners to Rafa's two in that set. Total points won: Djokovic 113-99 Nadal.

BREAK AND SET! Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 Nadal

Rafa mutters to the umpire after a Djokovic stroke goes close on the opening point before the Spaniard goes long on the next. NoDjo just two points from the set. And it's three set points as Nadal mishits another. The defending champion converts on the first with a flat forehand up-the-line to take the set 6-2.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 5-2 Nadal

Nadal has won 20% of baseline points today compared with 56% for the rest of the tournament and this inferiority is evident as Djokovic races to a 40-0 lead before swiping another backhand down the line.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 4-2 Nadal

Relentless again from the Serb who is unleashing on both wings, especially the forehand. Rafa answers with a first serve and trademark in-to-out forehand that evades the Serb before another break point is set up by a drop shot from Djokovic. He had converted 4 of 11 previous chances and make that 4 from 12 as Nadal produces a wide service. "Advantage Nadal" after a lacklustre forehand from Nolé and he again pushes long as Nadal holds.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 4-1 Nadal

No such problems for Djokovic on serve who holds to-love with some superb serving and groundstrokes. The forehand at 40-0 is blasé and he strides purposefully to his chair. Nadal needs to find something here.

BREAK! Djokovic 5-7 6-4 3-1 Nadal

Nadal twice moves ahead in the game but frames on two occasions before Djokovic yells in despair as his return is called out despite clearly being inside the baseline. They replay the point at 30-30 and Djokovic whips a forehand out of Nadal's reach to earn a break point. The pair slug it out with Nadal doing most of the running before pulling a forehand just wide. Djokovic breaks and stares menacingly at his box.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 2-1 Nadal

The opening rally is beastly and Djokovic comes out on top with a backhand up-the-line and continues to dominate with Nadal failing to maintain length on his groundstrokes. The Spaniard takes the initiative however to level at 30-30 and should create a break point chance only to tamely hit into the net and punch his racket in disgust. Djokovic punishes the mistake with a big forehand to resume his lead.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 1-1 Nadal

Nadal smashes his sixth ace to go 30-0 up before a backhand volley from Djokovic on the reach. Nadal has two game points after a lazy forehand from the Serb but there's no chance he's taking either after an acute forehand and bullish return from the defending Melbourne champion. Nole groans with disdain after sending the next return long but fires a forehand winner up the line to make it deuce once more. Nadal has another chance to close out the game but his head's in his hands after an unforced. "Vamos!" once more as the Spaniard finally holds.

Djokovic 5-7 6-4 1-0 Nadal

Djokovic picks up where he left off with a hold to-love. Nadal can do little about the world number one's power and accuracy at the moment, he needs to come out and hold in the next or this third set could get away from him.

Set 2: Djokovic deservedly takes the second after a much more combative performance. The Serbian will like to improve his first serve percentage of 54% in the third while Rafa will look to not get so overpowered. Total points won: Djokovic 81-83 Nadal.

BREAK AND SET! Djokovic 5-7 6-4 Nadal

Djokovic attacks at 15-15 on the Nadal second serve to go ahead but can only parry a body serve long in the next. Massive point at 30-30. And again Djokovic can't find a return as Nadal serves to the body. Nadal asks how many challenges he has left as Djokovic's return is called in, just one says Pascal Maria, and he's now used them up for this set. Deuce. Djokovic guesses right as Nadal approaches and he bullets a backhand pass up-the-line to set up a third set point. And Nadal this time crumbles under pressure and double faults to hand the second to Djokovic 6-4.

BREAK! Djokovic 5-7 5-4 Nadal

The Serbian's aggressive mindset continues as he blasts a backhand winner cross-court before a limp return from Nadal. A clench of the fist from Djokovic after an acute volley creates two set points. The first is squandered after an attempt at a winner and Nadal fights back with a forehand winner to take the game to deuce. The Spaniard goes ahead in the next exchange but produces a mediocre drop shot only for Djokovic to hammer the pass into the middle of Nadal's racket. Break-back point. And what a time to produce your first double fault of the match. Nadal breaks back after saving two set points.

Djokovic 5-7 5-3 Nadal

Djokovic ups the pace in an attempt to take the set but is met by blunt resistance from the Spaniard. Nadal goes ahead in the game after a volley which Nole applauds but he can do little about the Serb's return on the next. Rafa has the chance to close it out and remarkably challenges his own serve that was called in after Djokovic hit a straight winner. The Serb is not happy with Nadal's apparent gamesmanship but the serve was in so we're at deuce and it's set point Djokovic after more deep groundstrokes. Nadal attacks to prevent the loss of the set and takes the game as Djokovic lashes into the net.

Djokovic 5-7 5-2 Nadal

Nadal's defence is extraordinary in the opening point and Djokovic tries to go around the net post with a backhand but is just wide of the line. The clock ticks over the two-hour mark as Nadal nets twice to hand the Serb two game points. He makes the first count with a drop shot and is now just one game away from the set.

Djokovic 5-7 4-2 Nadal

Djokovic is really in control at the moment and is stepping up nearer the baseline, he goes ahead thanks to some brutal forehands before finding the net when going for another winner. Nadal soon has two game points a fifth ace down-the-middle and he wraps up the game on the next. Djokovic looks like he's conserving some energy for his service game.

Djokovic 5-7 4-1 Nadal

Nadal is starting to find his range on the backhand up-the-line as he levels at 30-30 but Djokovic answers with an unreturnable forehand to present game point. The Serb is now three games clear and favourite with the bookmakers to triumph overall as Nadal's backhand slaps the tape and stays on the Spaniard's side of the court.

BREAK! Djokovic 5-7 3-1 Nadal

Djokovic levels the winner count with a high forehand before Nadal responds with a backhand of his own over the highest part of net that draws a gasp from the crowd. At 30-30 Rafa is presented a mid-court ball but frames his forehand long. Break point Djokovic. The Serb converts after an outstanding deep volley low to his right.

Djokovic 5-7 2-1 Nadal

A trademark down-the-line backhand is followed by an unreturnable serve as Nole goes ahead before Nadal slaps a forehand that is too much for the Serb to deal with. Djokovic's next forehand is lax and we're back at 30-30 before the world number one's next forehand finds the corner and he holds thanks to a brilliant get on the backhand side.

Djokovic 5-7 1-1 Nadal

This is better from the Serb who goes 0-30 up after some relentless groundstrokes. However, he fails to put a second serve in court before earning two break points as Nadal misdirects a simple forehand. The shot is met with a grimace of discontent from the Spaniard and he manages, after saving the first break point, to somehow outlast Djokovic at 30-40 to prevent the break. A third ace gives Nadal the chance to level the second but he carves wide before levelling up the set with another ace soon after.

Djokovic 5-7 1-0 Nadal

Djokovic shows his intent by flashing a Nadal forehand down the line to go ahead 30-0 and doesn't seem to be too disheartened at losing that first set. He takes the game to-15 as Nadal hits out.

Set 1: Nadal takes a sapping opening set in one hour and 20 minutes. Can the two men keep this intensity up for much more? Djokovic surely has to get tired after Friday's encounter with Murray? Total points won: Djokovic 43-49 Nadal.

SET! Djokovic 5-7 Nadal

Nadal opens with a body serve that Djokovic blocks long before trying one forehand too many in the next. Djokovic's defence is tireless at 15-30 but he can do little as Nadal drop volleys. Two set points for the world number two. Djokovic kills off the first with an audacious return winner and we're back at deuce as Nadal goes long on the stretch. It will be a cruel blow if Nadal can't hold out here and he has set point number three after some solid forehand strokes. This time he converts as the Serb's return is long and Nadal takes the first 7-5.

BREAK! Djokovic 5-6 Nadal

Djokovic's opening forehand is somewhat desperate after a draining rally and goes over the baseline but the 24-year-old answers with a drive volley to make it 15-15. At 30-15, Djokovic bombards the Nadal backhand but can't find a way through before the Spaniard changes the pace brilliantly and soon has break point after lashing a forehand down-the-line. "Vamos!" cries the Spaniard as Djokovic idly hits a straightforward backhand long.

Djokovic 5-5 Nadal

A third approach to the net for Nadal is successful on the opening point of the tenth and he races to a 40-0 lead but gives Djokovic a sight of deuce with two unforced errors before an outrageous forehand seals the game. We've played over an hour in Melbourne and are still two games from a tie-break. This could be epic.

Djokovic 5-4 Nadal

Nadal looks to regain his advantage by turning the screw and is 0-30 ahead thanks to his 11th winner. He is a tad unfortunate in the next as his forehand pass that was destined to set up three break points clips the tape and loops up to present Djokovic with a backhand. The Serb then comes out on top in a gruelling exchange in the next before creating game point with an angled backhand which he takes as Nadal goes long. NoDjo is ahead for the first time in six games.

BREAK! Djokovic 4-4 Nadal

Early pressure is applied to Nadal as he lashes long but Djokovic can't get the next back. 15-15. The Serb mishits into the crowd, his shot being caught by an astute fan which pleases the Melbourne crowd, before Nadal's forehand barely makes it halfway up the net. Big point for Rafa and Djokovic plants a second serve into the net, he'll be annoyed with that. We're at deuce once more however as Djokovic wears down Nadal's forehand with some deep strokes. The Spaniard is now into double figures on the unforced error count and Djokovic again has break-back point but can't take it, floating his forehand slice wide. He has another chance to break but again his slice on-the-reach drifts out. Nadal is under real pressure on his serve and finally Nole breaks through with the Spaniard dragging into the net.

Djokovic 3-4 Nadal

The Serb looks a little rattled here and angrily swats a backhand wide before nonchalantly hitting a forehand winner to go 30-15 ahead. Another effortless forehand, this time cross-court, sets up game point and that's Djokovic's most comfortable hold of the match.

Djokovic 2-4 Nadal

Djokovic has already changed his shirt after that long fifth game as Nadal looks to consolidate the break and begins with his second ace by challenging well on a serve down-the-T. NoDjo still doesn't look quite comfortable but soon has break-back point which Nadal saves with a bullet forehand that clips the line. An 11th unforced error from Djokovic gives Nadal the chance to hold but he can't take it and we're back at deuce. The Serb sets up another break point chance but he frames a forehand wide. Neither men can convert when presented the opportunity of the game as three more deuces are seen before Nadal finally holds out in a 12-minute game.

BREAK! Djokovic 2-3 Nadal

Nole begins his third service game well to go ahead 30-0 but Rafa is soon level thanks to an in-to-out forehand before Djokovic sets up game point with his second ace. It's soon deuce and a first break point of the match to Nadal thanks to some excellent retrieval but he wastes the chance by pushing a second-serve return long. The pair produce the longest rally of the match at deuce which Nadal wins to create break point number two and this time he takes it as Djokovic pushes a simple backhand long.

Djokovic 2-2 Nadal

Djokovic successfully challenges on the opening point before Nadal replies with a forehand winner and smash to go ahead. Nole keels over after the third point but I wouldn't read too much into that, he looked beaten against Murray but kept going until the end. Nadal serves out to-15 to level the encounter.

Djokovic 2-1 Nadal

A forehand winner up-the-line sees Nadal, like Murray did so often on Friday, go 0-30 on Djokovic's serve. The world number one responds with a deep forehand before registering his first ace, which is unsuccessfully challenged by Nadal, to level at 30-30. This time it's Djokovic with the ripping forehand to set up game point which he converts thanks a similar, flat hit to the Nadal backhand.

Djokovic 1-1 Nadal

An ace begins the game for Nadal, which is rare for the Spaniard who is relatively unheralded for his service. I saw some people on Twitter saying the best value bet today was that Djokovic would have more aces but Nadal currently leads that market. He goes on to hold to-love and we're level in the Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic 1-0 Nadal

Nadal gives Djokovic's backhand wing some work early on and has a glimpse of a break at 15-30 but this is soon extinguished before an excellent kick second serve hands the first game to the Serb.

Djokovic 0-0 Nadal

The Serbian world number one will serve first. Here we go.

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