The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam of the season and is held in Melbourne usually in mid-January for a fortnight. It is the first Grand Slam tournament to continue playing indoors in case of rains or extreme heat during the Australian summer. All three primary courts, Rod Laver Arena, John Cain Arena and the Margaret Court Arena, all are equipped with retractable roofs.
The Slam is also called the ‘Happy Slam’, a term first coined by Roger Federer, who is a 6-time champion at the Slam. The tournament gets this particular name as many players like to play at the Slam and with it also being the first Slam of the season, even the spectators are happy to have live tennis action.
The tournament has seen some thrilling matches over the years and here we look down at the 5-longest matches played at the Grand Slam over the years.
No. 5: Novak Djokovic vs Stan Wawrinka- 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(7), 12-10 in 5 hours and 2 minutes
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic was the 3-time champion and a 2-time defending champion going for a hattrick of titles at the 2013 Australian Open. Up against him was 15th seeded Stan Wawrinka who was still hunting for his first-ever Grand Slam title. Both the players reached the 4th round without dropping a single set.
Wawrinka took the first set convincingly and Novak needed to fight back in the second set after finding himself 2-5 down. The Serbian then won 5 games on the trot to take the second set and level the match. The third and the fourth set went to the wire with Wawrinka winning the tie-breaker in the 4th set to force the match into the 5th set.
The 5th set was the toughest set as the duo went into the 22nd game of the set but still couldn’t be separated before Novak eventually won the match 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(7), 12-10 to win the match in 5 hours and 2 minutes. Djokovic also won the title that year to complete his hattrick of titles.
No. 4: Boris Becker vs Omar Camporese– 7-6(7), 7-6(7), 0-6, 4-6, 14-12 in 5 hours and 11 minutes
2nd seeded Boris Becker was already a 4-time Grand Slam champion coming into the Australian Open but had not yet won the title Down Under. He made it to the 3rd round without dropping a set and was up against Italy’s Omar Camporese on the back of consecutive 4-set wins.
Becker won the first two sets in closely fought tiebreakers and looked to take the match in straight-sets, but the Italian staged an incredible comeback. The Italian went on to bagel the German in the 3rd set, one of the few times the German failed to win a single game in the set, and then won the 4th set as well to force Becker into a 5th set against the odds.
The 5th set went past the 20th game with both players not ready to give up. After 5 hours and 11 minutes, Becker eventually won the tie 7-6(7), 7-6(7), 0-6, 4-6, 14-12 and then went on to win the title as well, his 5th Grand Slam title and first of his two titles at the Slam.
No. 3: Rafael Nadal vs Fernando Verdasco – 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (1), 6-4 in 5 hours and 14 minutes
With 5 Grand Slam titles to his name already, the then World No. 1 Rafael Nadal was yet to win a Grand Slam title on hardcourts. The Spaniard reached the final-4 of the Slam without dropping a single set was set to meet compatriot Fernando Verdasco who after winning his first 3 matches in straight-sets, won in 5-sets against Andy Murray in the 4th round and then won his quarter-finals in 4-sets.
After splitting the first two sets between them, Nadal won the 3rd set in the tiebreaker and then Verdasco won the 4th set battling not only Nadal but also severe cramps that needed his trainer to give him some treatment and relief on the sidelines. With the match now past midnight, the two Spaniards went on before eventually, Nadal won the match 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (1), 6-4 in 5 hours and 14 minutes. Nadal eventually won the title, his only Slam in Melbourne.
No. 2: Ivo Karlovic vs Horacio Zeballos – 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 in 5 hours and 22 minutes
20th seeded Ivo Karlovic was up against the unseeded Horacio Zeballos in the first round of the 2017 Australian Open. Karlovic had already established his name as one of the best players on the tour with respect to the service game and firing aces.
While Horacio won the first two sets against all odds as Karlovic was the favourite going into the tie, the Croatian reacted well to take the next two sets and take the match into the deciding set. Having played 4 gruelling sets already, the duo played out a total of 42 games in the 5th set before Karlovic won the match 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 in 5 hours and 22 minutes.
The match entered the record books with Karlovic hitting 75 aces, an Australian Open record, while the 84 games played during the 5-sets also became the highest number of games played in a single match at the Slam.
No. 1: Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal – 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7 (5), 7–5 in 5 hours and 53 minutes
The finals of the 2012 Australian Open remains the longest Grand Slam final in the Open Era in duration and is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever tennis match as well. Nadal was already a 10-time Grand Slam champion and was looking for his 2nd title at the Australian Open while Novak had won just 4 Grand Slam titles and was also the defending champion that year.
Novak had made it to the 4th round without dropping a set and won his round of 16 match in 4-sets. He then won his quarter-final clash in straight-sets before defeating Murray in 5-sets to enter the finals. Nadal on the other hand reached the quarter-finals without dropping a single set and then won his quarter-finals and semi-final matches in 4-sets including his win over Federer in the semis.
After having split the first 4 sets, a roaring crowd was pleased to see the match go into the 5th set. Nadal was 4-2 up in the 5th set and seemed to win the title but Novak fought back bravely and with a strong forehand while approaching the net and gave out a big roar as he won the title in front of a rousing crowd. Djokovic finally won the match 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7 (5–7), 7–5 in 5 hours and 53 minutes.
During the presentation ceremony, both the players had to be given chairs as they struggled to stand after having played a marathon match.