The 2012 Australian Open Men's Singles final was the championship tennis match of the Men's Singles tournament at the 2012 Australian Open between two of the best players of their generation. In the final, Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7(5–7), 7–5 to win the match. It was the Grand Slam final match with the longest duration in history, lasting 5 hours 53 minutes, overtaking the record previously set by the 1988 US Open Final between Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl. The match is considered to be one of the best matches in modern tennis. With both players playing at their highest levels, the match is memorable for being a war of attrition and for the impeccable quality and duration of play between Djokovic and Nadal. Before this final, Novak Djokovic played his semifinal match against Andy Murray in a match lasting 4 hours and 50 minutes.
Rafael Nadal won the first set 7–5, Nadal gaining a break of serve after a long attritional battle. The second set was equally close-fought, Djokovic coming back from one break down to win the set 6–4 and level the match at one set each. The third set was the shortest of the final, Djokovic breaking Nadal twice to take the set 6–2. In this set, Djokovic dropped only two points on serve and broke again in game eight with a crushing forehand to lead for the first time. Nadal won the fourth set with a 7–5 tie-break; Djokovic had led 5–3 before Nadal took the next four points. The final set saw a return of the intense play seen in the opening sets. Nadal broke in the sixth game to take a 4–2 lead. Djokovic then broke back to level at 4–4. Finally, Djokovic made a decisive break of serve to win what is, in terms of duration, both the longest Grand Slam final in the Open Era and also the longest match in the history of the Australian Open.
This match is central to the Djokovic–Nadal rivalry. Nadal called it the toughest loss of his career but the best match he ever played. Djokovic said it was the finest win in his career and also commented on the high level of tennis played. Not only was this the longest Grand Slam final, but according to Tennis Channel and the Australian Open TV networks, this was one of the most-watched finals, despite ending late into the night locally. Soon after the conclusion of the 2012 Australian Open, there were sources claiming that Djokovic sealed his spot as a tennis great and in the Tennis Hall of Fame. After the 2012 Australian Open, Rod Laver came out with his list of greatest players in the amateur and Open Era. Djokovic was ranked 6th and Nadal 5th on the Open Era list. Laver said the 2012 Australian Open final was a main reason for including both players.
Nadal after the match said that: “His (Djokovic) return probably is one of the best in history” and “[He makes it] almost every time". Djokovic said: "It was obvious on the court for everybody who has watched the match that both of us, physically, we took the last drop of energy that we had from our bodies, we made history tonight and unfortunately there couldn't be two winners". Rafael Nadal: "This one was very special," he said. "But I really understand that was a really special match, and probably a match that's going to be in my mind not because I lost, no, because the way that we played." Commentator Chris Fowler said after the match concluded, "Unforgettable. Unmatched. A new definition of suffering for the title. You think you've seen everything and then you witness a match like this."