There was a famous moment in golf journalism, after an ageing and written-off Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters tournament. A senior writer totally seized up in the media room, clutching his hair and saying “it’s too big, it’s too big, it’s too big…”. What the guy had just witnessed simply defied any words he could write.

A champion to a tee. Picture: Getty.

You feel the same way trying to describe an Australian Open final like the one we had last night. What do you write? How do you sum up five hours and 53 minutes of the most epic tennis imaginable between two guys with the stamina of marathon runners, the dynamism of sprinters and the skill of marksmen?

Oh, there are all sorts of angles you can take. More angles than a protractor factory. You can take the broad view and start the “who’s the greatest ever?” debate. After all, if Federer has the most Grand Slams ever, but Nadal keeps beating Federer when they meet in Slams, and now Djokovic keeps beating both of them, that’s the kind of argument that could rage on well past pub closing time.

You could narrow things down and ask, albeit somewhat uncharitably, why women get equal pay in tennis when the men’s final lasted six times longer than the punctured souffle that was the women’s final.

Or you could do the sensible thing, and celebrate this match as an exemplar of everything that can be, and is, great about sport. In your best Richie Benaud accent, you substitute the “c” in catch for the “m” in match, sit back and reflect over your morning Weet Bix and declare: “What a match! What… a… match!”.

Or to put it in the succinct, impassioned words of commenter “Simon” on the Fox Sports website at 2.06 this morning, “Sport will always be greatest thing in universe”.

This week in Australian life has again been dogged by bitter political sniping of the most deplorable, under-handed and ultimately demoralising kind. The international cricket this summer, despite some brilliant individual performances, has been a contest between a rising team giving its all and another that doesn’t really want to be here.

But last night, we saw two guys fighting like their farms, and a million other farms, depended on it. There was no single defining, miracle between-the-legs down-the-line impossible shot. There was just precision and chasing. Precision and chasing. Another Djokovic forehand down the line, another counter-attacking Nadal cross court backhand, which from any other player would have been a defensive shot.

Holy cow, but it was something to watch.

Only problem was, you had to stay up three quarters of the night to watch it. Twice in my career as a dedicated couch fan, I have desperately regretted going to bed halfway through a match.

Once was during the 1999 Cricket World Cup, when Australia was 3-for-stuff all chasing South Africa’s plenty. Wouldn’t you know, that was the night Steve Waugh made his epic century after his brilliant “you’ve just dropped the World Cup” sledge to South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs.

The other was last night, my early retirement forced by parental duties at this morning’s resumption of the 2012 school year. The Open organisers need to sit down with sponsors and broadcasters and sort out the starting times. Two years ago, Bernard Tomic complained about playing past his bedtime, and it was actually the only justified whinge the serial whinger has ever had.

I watched till the brief rain delay last night. That was some time after 11pm. It was the fourth set, and you just knew the match was going to rock on into the night.

The game prior to the rain delay had everything. Djokovic was up two sets to one, leading 4-3 on serve. The tennis at this point of the match was intense beyond belief. To win a point, you either had to hit the ball on the line or within a hair’s breadth of it. If only European ship captains navigated as truly.

Then Djokovic reduced Nadal to 0-40 on the Spaniard’s serve. This was his big chance. So what does Nadal do? He reels off five consecutive points. Bang, bang, bang. Deuce. Bang, bang. Four all. Close the roof. Game still on.

If those who went to sleep at that moment had a night like me, you lay in bed in a fitful half-sleep, wondering what on earth had happened in the tennis. What happened is this. Nadal won the fourth set in a tie breaker and took the match to a fifth. Even though this duo had played 29 times previously without going to five sets, you knew this thing was going the distance. You just knew it.

You knew there would be further twists too. Like Nadal going up 4-2 in the fifth, but eventually succumbing 7-5. And you knew that there would quotes flying around this morning to the effect that “there are no losers in a match like this”.

Clichés are the enemy of sports reporting, but sometimes, when words fail, that really is all you’re left with. This was indeed a match no one deserved to lose. It was the match of the century, and you get the feeling you’d be saying that if it had happened in 2099, not 2012.

Thank you linespeople, thank you ball kiddies. And thank you both, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Most commented

124 comments

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    • Bill says:

      09:12am | 30/01/12

      Once again Melbourne is the centre of the world’s sporting focus. What a great show, Melbourne.

    • Kelvin says:

      09:48am | 30/01/12

      The greatness of this match had absolutely nothing to do with the city that hosted the game. Myopic Victorian views - aagh

      This was all about the players - not the tennis court.

    • Bill says:

      10:29am | 30/01/12

      Hey Kelvin - the greatness of this match has EVERYTHING to do with the city that hosted the game. There is only one Australian city which has a proven track record of hosting an international event of this scale.

      Imagine if the Australian Open was played at the suburban facilities provided by lesser cities such as Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney.

    • mark says:

      10:53am | 30/01/12

      Bill,  look at your history, the Australian open used to be moved around between cities in the past,..  it didnt start with melb nor will it stop with it,...  like kelv, said, stop living in a cocoon

    • john says:

      11:30am | 30/01/12

      @Bill “There is only one Australian city which has a proven track record of hosting an international event of this scale. “

      Thats why Sydney got the 2000 olympics that everyone still talks about & melbourne got those 2006 commonwealths games everyone has forgotten about.

    • Bill says:

      11:35am | 30/01/12

      @ Mark - I’m well aware that the Australian Open used to be held in other cities a long time ago. You need to understand that it was Melbourne which was chosen to be the sole venue for the Open because it was, is, and always will be, the only Australian city worthy of hosting a yearly international sporting event.

      Melbourne has held the Australian Open 56 times, compared to lesser cities such as Sydney (17) and Adelaide (14).

      There’s a reason why this has occurred. Melbourne has always been a forward looking city (every other city foolishly ripped up its tram network - not us). We saw the benefit of hosting a world class event decades before any other Australian city even considered bidding for one (1956 Olympics, for example).

      Don’t forget that that the Australian Open is guaranteed to be held in the world’s greatest sporting city until at least 2036. And even then, no other Australian city will be able to compete with us.

    • john says:

      12:06pm | 30/01/12

      @Bill “Melbourne has held the Australian Open 56 times, compared to lesser cities such as Sydney (17) and Adelaide (14).
      There’s a reason why this has occurred.”

      Your right Bill there certainly is a reason, people in other cities prefer to watch paint dry, its more stimulating than watching tennis. The other cities only fight for the right to host the Australian open when pensioner societies with short term memories sail into the harbour with those oversized coffin cruise ships- they need some simple entertainment during shore leave.

    • Sunny says:

      12:10pm | 30/01/12

      The game started at 4:30pm in the west and was finished around 11. Perfect actually. Oh and aren’t you supposed to at least make it sound like you watched the whole game when you’re going to be writing a review of it the next day?

    • dexa says:

      12:20pm | 30/01/12

      @Bill, take your head out of your ass, you’re ruining it for Melbourne.

    • Biggles says:

      12:28pm | 30/01/12

      Bill is correct - but there’s f@ck all else to do in this bleak, one dimensional, inbred filled, hole.

    • Brad says:

      12:54pm | 30/01/12

      Dull as dishwater. Like all televised sports.

    • john says:

      01:03pm | 30/01/12

      @Biggles “but there’s f@ck all else to do in this bleak, one dimensional, inbred filled, hole.”

      Thats simply not true, they can build another one of these sculptures, one of Melbourne’s favourite pass time with fences like westgate bridge so kids don’t get thrown out like garbage.

      AND another, melbourne’s best kept secret is to go to the Buck & Ride its a local watering hole to escape the inbreeding and feast on a timid visitor.  For those more adventurous upstairs is SOS to engage the local fauna more closely.

    • acotrel says:

      01:57pm | 30/01/12

      As long as it brings the tourists, it doesn’t harm me.  I can still sleep right through it !

    • TommyP says:

      02:21pm | 30/01/12

      Billy, hate to burst your self-rightous bubble, but it is the AUSTRALIAN OPEN!  No where is it refered to, or celebrated as thje Melbourne Open.  Seriously, Victorians need to get a bit of a grip on reality.

    • Clem says:

      09:15am | 30/01/12

      Another question could be: why don’t women play five sets? Surely they’re fit enough in this day and age to go another two rounds.

    • Hanzel says:

      09:29am | 30/01/12

      Well said, Clem. These days, women are also dominating in frontline combat infantry roles and feminism has taught us that there’s no difference between men and women. It’s the 21st century, why not have one competition that both men and women play in. What better way to show how far we’ve evolved as a species.

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      09:46am | 30/01/12

      Yes that’s right Hanzel and when the woman get constantly and regularly trounced by the men listen to the cries of how unfair it is.

      The fact is men are physically stronger etc than women especially at the elite level, absolutely nothing to do with eveolution of the species, it’s just a fact.  Stop trying to bring feminism into sport.

      A men V women comp would not go to 5 sets because the women would simply not be able to physically compete with the men.

    • Josh says:

      09:46am | 30/01/12

      I read somewhere too that said women actually have better long range endurance than men (in running, i.e. over ultra marathon conditions).

      Anyway they get too tired from screaming themselves silly in the first 3 sets to push on for 4 or 5.

    • Shane* says:

      09:53am | 30/01/12

      @Hanzel,

      No difference between men and women? Try around 40 - 50km/h on each serve.

      Feminism may have taugh us there’s no difference, but common sense and a little thing called science tell us that differences abound.

    • Shane* says:

      09:53am | 30/01/12

      @Hanzel,

      No difference between men and women? Try around 40 - 50km/h on each serve.

      Femenism may have taugh us there’s no difference, but common sense and a little thing called science tell us that differences abound.

    • MaryM says:

      09:55am | 30/01/12

      I agree women should play best of 5 (or get paid 3/5 of the prize money men get - maybe if enough people switch off for shriek-fests this will happen through lost revenue??? One can only hope).

      But really- let’s not mar the post-match commentary in this way. Djokovic and Nadal deserve to be in the limelight for that. They were simply brilliant. Definitely one of the best games of tennis we have had the pleasure of witnessing. They couldn’t even stand through the ceremony! That’s ‘leaving everything on the court’ - *applause*.

    • Tony says:

      10:27am | 30/01/12

      I agree MaryM, I understand that the womens final lasted as long as the mens set. If they want equal money, they have to do better than grunt.
      Hanzel, seriously, I don’t think women are dominating anything, let it be, enjoy what is on offer, but don’t expect high $‘s for very little.

    • Seth Brundle says:

      10:30am | 30/01/12

      I dont think feminism was ever trying to say that men and women are equal, but rather that we are all deserving of equal rights and opportunities.  Unfortunately, as usual, the message got obscured by the voices of the intellectually mediocre majority.

      Anyway, I usually prefer watching womens tennis (well, as long as at least one of the women in question is hot).

    • DuffyMum says:

      10:32am | 30/01/12

      I agree, Clem. If the boys can run play for up to five sets then so should the girls. The prize money should reflect the effort required.

      Well done to both players last night. It was an awesome match that I ended up seeing to the end. I’m wrecked this morning but no doubt nothing compared to how Rafa and Novak are (if they are even awake as yet). They deserved every single cent they got and more after such an epic.

    • GeoffPh says:

      10:45am | 30/01/12

      Isn’t the The Davis Cup open to men and women, but only men ever manage to qualify?

    • Clem says:

      10:54am | 30/01/12

      @Hanzel, I take it you’re being ironic….

      I don’t believe that the sexes are equal in terms of physical strength and there will always be a gap between the top men of a sport and the top women.

      All I’m saying is that it’s strange that there’s still the belief that women don’t have the ticker for a five set match. Marathons & triathlons aren’t shortened for them, so why is tennis?

    • PJM says:

      11:23am | 30/01/12

      When they stop screaming..maybe, but not a moment before.
      Imagine expecting you sit through 5 sets of Screamapova?? Rather rip my own eyes out. I say keep the three sets and pay them less.

    • DuffyMum says:

      01:29pm | 30/01/12

      Let the ladies play five sets and then they’ll have the right to have the same prize money. As for the current shrieking, use the mute or plug in some ear plugs and just enjoy the match in peace. They do play well but all the decibel-blasting noises they make, do them no favours in the eyes of the spectators (or should that be “ears”?).

    • Spills says:

      02:06pm | 30/01/12

      Yeah they COULD play 5 sets but they don’t because after 3 sets the pace of the game and the shots themselves become so weak and slow that the game would hardly be worth watching. It would be like watching two stoners trying to run around a court after 20 cones. Women simply don’t have the strength or stamina to play QUALITY tennis for more than an hour or so. It’s not a sexist judgment and has nothing to do with feminism, people need to at least acknowledge there are differences between men and women.

    • exercise scientist says:

      03:15pm | 30/01/12

      @Hanzel,
      women don’t serve in frontline infantry units anywhere in the world. Israel was the last country to try it with disastrous results. Even by the very low standards of Israeli conscripts the female soldiers were utterly hopeless. Very few females even have enough strength to lift a 40kg backpack off the ground let alone fight a battle with it on their backs.

      If you ever deal with female athletes you will realise how little upper body strength they actually have - frequently less than a male jockey. The top female tennis players would be lucky to have 1/3rd the upper body strength of the top male players.

      The best female layers would have considerable trouble beating your local suburban male tennis coach.  They would be absolutely trashed by any ranked male player.

      Billy Jean King at her peak could barely beat the 55 year old ex-professional Bobby Riggs. Riggs would never be considered one of the great tennis players.

    • Ando says:

      03:58pm | 30/01/12

      Dont worry Hanzel , sarcasm is lost on many here.No matter how obvious.

    • K says:

      09:30am | 30/01/12

      “More angles than a protractor factory.” - Some of your finest work, Ant.

    • Leon Spinks says:

      09:38am | 30/01/12

      “Once again Melbourne is the centre of the world’s sporting focus. What a great show, Melbourne.”
      Sorry, when was the last time? Melbourne is so full of s…

    • Shredder says:

      09:59am | 30/01/12

      Sorry Leon. Melbourne is THE cultural and sporting capital of the country. No need to be jealous.

    • Bill says:

      11:07am | 30/01/12

      @ Leon - I responded to your comment but for some reason the Punch decided to not to publish it below your post. Scroll down and you will see it.

    • Gregg says:

      09:49am | 30/01/12

      It was a great match and though I must admit that I was flicking channels at times, thinking that Djokovic was going to take out the fourth as half way through it looked as if he had Nadal’s measure, I came back for the fifth and early on and just about all the way through it looked as if Nadal had timed his charge and Djokovic was more than literally out on his feet - he was after a 32 point rally - he lost it and collapsed for a few brief moments, he had the staggers and it nearly looked as though he had leg/feet issues that could have forced an injury break or worse a retirement.

      But miracles do happen and he hung in there tough and came back from 40-0 to win against Nadal’s serve to get the match back on serve, it then being Nadal who may have been questioning his own belief.
      Djokovic had won their seven previous encounters, none going to five sets.

      Both players had chairs brought out for them to seat on during the presentation, only after collapses could have been imminent, Djokovic looking to the heavens during speeches and then Nadal propping himself back on the net.
      To both their credits, they gave splendid responses to the speeches and were both champions through to the end.

      I was thinking when Djokovic was at risk of losing through physical exhaustion that perhaps something needs to be done re the playing of the semi finals and quarter finals too you could say to ensure equal rest time for the finalists as just how fair is it to give Nadal two days rest and Djokovic just the one.

      Womens tennis is OK at times but one does have to question the equal pay/prize money for as related to effort, there is just no comparison.

    • Tim says:

      09:49am | 30/01/12

      First of all, if it’s the final and it’s already gone to 4 sets and looking like it’s going to 5, then you’ve probably got your story for the next day, so just stay up - it’s your job.
      Next: It’s reasonably easy to say that they should change the time such that people can watch it on the TV at home. But let’s not forget that this is a global sport, and melbourne is trying to hold onto the open in the face of competition from other countries that would only be too happy to take over and host a major. The timing allows for international audiences (e.g. the European and some of the US audiences to view). Allowing for this means more people can watch overall, so it just makes sense really. Maybe having both women’s & men’s finals on a Saturday, or the women’s on a Friday, and the men’s on a Saturday would be worth looking into.
      All said and done, bloody great game, and was happy I was able to watch it from here (Germany).

    • Frank says:

      09:51am | 30/01/12

      oh get over it after the pathetic female finale I am happy to have not seen any of the mens final…

    • RCheck says:

      11:29am | 30/01/12

      What the hell are you on about Frank? The women’s final was an anticlimax - it happens. The Men’s Final was an epic, skillful event - and you’re happy you missed it… that’s great mate, so… why are you commenting on this article?

    • Bill says:

      10:16am | 30/01/12

      The last time?  Let me tell educate you.

      Melbourne is the only city in the country with a calendar full of events known all over the world.

      Let’s start with the Australian Open. One of only four Grand Slam events. Record crowd attendances. Massive international audiences. The Grand Prix in March is watched by millions all over the planet. Then comes the internationally famous Melbourne Comedy Festival, Arts Festival and Melbourne Film Festival. The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is beaten only by the one in Chelsea for the tital of the world’s greatest.

      Then we have the Melbourne Cup (the richest two mile handicap race in the world, and the only Australian horse race known internationally).

      Speaking of sport, the Boxing Day Test is, by a country mile, the biggest and most attended cricket match in the country.

      Let’s not forget that the AFL (born in Melbourne) is by far the most popular code of football in the country (and the third most attended sport in the world).

      Throw in the Spring and Autumn Racing Carnivals and there is no city in the world that can match Melbourne for events.

      Every year, Melbourne hosts sporting (and other) events that no other city in Australia can do. FACT.

      So, who is full of s… now?

    • Bob says:

      10:53am | 30/01/12

      Yawn. Another Melbournian with an inferiority complex.

    • bella starkey says:

      11:12am | 30/01/12

      Despite the half truths and qualifying statements in there, the parochialism is hillarious.

    • Tim says:

      12:17pm | 30/01/12

      Bahahahahahaha,
      of those only the Tennis and the Grand Prix are really international events.
      Two per year, yeah you’re really rocking out the international sporting calendar there.

    • ILR says:

      12:21pm | 30/01/12

      ....because sport and sport alone is soooooo important.

    • The Black Poloneck says:

      12:33pm | 30/01/12

      Someone tell Bill about the rabbits again

    • TommyP says:

      02:44pm | 30/01/12

      Bill, Bill, Billy…...  Mate.  AFL third most watched sport, IN THE WORLD????????  So, which sports does it beat?  NFL?  NBL?  College Football?  Premier League?  Champions League? SerieA?  ANY ONE of the S. American Football Leagues? From the UK - Div1, Div2, Div3???????      I can go on, and on, but the poor moderators….

    • TommyP says:

      02:54pm | 30/01/12

      @The Black Poloneck   ——  Even though a die-hard DRAGONS fan, I nearly wet myself from laughter at your post.  Witty & Awesome!  btw, go the Dragons!

    • PW says:

      06:13pm | 30/01/12

      Actually Australian Rules and Rugby League are pretty damn close to even stevens. Each is more popular than the other in its half of the country.

    • Seth Brundle says:

      10:20am | 30/01/12

      “You could narrow things down and ask, albeit somewhat uncharitably, why women get equal pay in tennis “

      Wow, even the Punch writers are trolling now…

    • BB says:

      10:21am | 30/01/12

      Utterly awesome and TOTALLY worth the sleep-deprivation… I saw it live. And I don’t regret a single, exhausting, nail-biting moment of it.
      grin
      BB

    • Jack Diamonn says:

      03:37pm | 30/01/12

      Same, and took the day off to watch it again with my sons having recorded it . Equally as good the second time. Novak is the consummate sportsman. i will pay good money to watch him next time

    • zed says:

      10:25am | 30/01/12

      How can you write this article when you didn’t even watch the whole match?  This a joke.  And more angles than a protractor factory? Really?

    • delilah says:

      10:27am | 30/01/12

      the womens game was pathetic, they should only be paid a fraction of the mens

    • bruzzer says:

      10:29am | 30/01/12

      the final was great, i was hoping for Nadal to win but he seems to lack the finess to beat Novak at the moment.

      i find it a disgrace that the menhave to endure almost 6 hours of play in the final to wi the grand slam and this is not counting the the hours spent on the court leading to the final.

      the women however seem to win in straight sets with ease and collect $2.7million in the process…. its seems unfair.
      they should at least start playing 5 sets from the quarter finals…. this will make the players elevate their level to what we now see in the mens.

      im not the only one that thinks like this, my family is surrounded by females and they all agree with my comments.

    • Billy Whizz says:

      12:51pm | 30/01/12

      The womens game would improve with 5 sets - there would be a return to game play and make way for endurance sized athletes, rather than the dull back of the court giants that prevail.  Give me the game play of a speedy clever Hingis over the current amazon grunt wars.  Likewise with the men, yes, the final was great, but it was a tall man slug fest with little intricacy.

    • PrettyDecent says:

      10:29am | 30/01/12

      Great match but doesnt rate really.

      Fed/Nadal from the Don a few years back has that title.

      Great match tho. Just get Bruce out of the box for christ sake.

    • Cynicised says:

      03:09pm | 30/01/12

      I would agree. I think this matche’s epic duration has people conflating it with all- time brilliance of play. Yes, the angles were often great, yes the stamina and fighting spirit of the players was superb, BUT the strategy was pretty pathetic. Neither player had any real notion of how to alter their game to defeat their opponent, so it became a drag out war of attrition. It was more like a street brawl than a boxing match, where outsmarting your opponent is part of the equation, not just outlasting him, as occurred last night. To call it “the match of the century” this early in the century is exaggeration and preemption of the highest order! That said, I was glued to it last night. Great entertainment, indeed.

    • Cam says:

      10:35am | 30/01/12

      No surprise that old dead horse about why women’s tennis doesn’t go on for 5 sets is dragged up again .... anyone would think the prizemoney was coming out of taxpayers pockets ....

    • Markus says:

      11:09am | 30/01/12

      It’s worse than that, it’s coming out of the spectator’s pockets.
      If I was paying full price to get 60% of a product I’d be annoyed too.

      Kind of like paying for a 5 day Test match only to see India get bowled out by lunch on day 3, but even worse because that was the schedule plan all along.

    • Mark of Brisbane says:

      02:35pm | 30/01/12

      Hey Markus, there is a solution for you. Don’t go. Other than that, zip it.

    • TommyP says:

      03:02pm | 30/01/12

      WOW!  Markus, getting slammed for expressing your opinion.  I mean, how dare you go on to an opinion blog, to express an opinion.  Mark, me thinks you need to chill a bit.  Or, are you Azarenka in desguis and are upset at the world demanding you either ofer the same product or redue your cost for the lesser item.

    • Rose says:

      04:58pm | 30/01/12

      Mark may have been a little bit too blunt but he has a point, if Markus resents the money he pays for a ticket paying for the female players prizemoney, he does have the option of not buying a ticket. Every single time you pay for a sporting ticket it’s like a lottery, sometimes you’ll get an epic contest and other times it will be a white wash, that’s life!
      I do actually believe that the women ought to receive a lesser prizepool, considering their shorter matches, but it still does need to reflect the fact that largely, their costs probably remain as high as the mens.

    • CurtisVC says:

      10:40am | 30/01/12

      There are so many questions. Why are they allowed to take so long between points (match could have been over by midnight without the time wasting) ? Why do we have to endure this late on a Sunday night whenmost of us have work the next day? Not something that journalists obviously have to worry about. Why is it that Djokovic seems to have the wood on Nadal who seems to have the wood on Federer who seems to have the wood on Djokovic? Where are the rest of the men’s players (an argument used for so long to deride the women’s game)?
      So many questions, and yet by next week no one will care because we’ll have a new sensation to astound us all.

    • bella starkey says:

      10:52am | 30/01/12

      “Why do we have to endure this late on a Sunday night whenmost of us have work the next day?”

      A) No one is forcing you to watch
      B) It’s not really about you, hey

    • Tony of Poorakistan says:

      10:59am | 30/01/12

      I agree with the timing - I didn’t even START to watch, knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to stay up and watch the end.

    • isn't it obvious says:

      12:38pm | 30/01/12

      why does it start late?

      because of this wonderful thing called timezones! ie. for the international viewing. same reason ecclestone wants to move the GP to a night race

    • Fingers says:

      10:55am | 30/01/12

      Tennis shite. Seriously, the game is played in Australia yet it local fans have to sit up ‘til nearly 2am for it to finish? Forward and back, forward and back, lets hit the ball. Stupid game.

    • TommyP says:

      03:05pm | 30/01/12

      Such and educated, literary, and concise perspective Fingers.  I am amazed that we now have trained monkeys who can type…..

    • Peter says:

      11:08am | 30/01/12

      One word: Epic!

      However it would have been over an hour quicker if they didn’t stretch the allowed time between points after every single point. Put a countdown clock in the stadium and automatically penalise a point for “delay of game” every time it expires.

    • Vivian says:

      11:11am | 30/01/12

      I can only think of a few things worse than watching an hour of tennis. Watching five hours of it would be one of them.

      Why doesn’t Tennis get with the program like cricket has. Forget 5 set tennis. Its days are numbered. The similarities to other sports palyed over multiples of 5 are too similar to be mere coincidence.

      And the time they play? What’s up with that? Tennis needs to appeal more to families. You know it makes sense. Woman and children can’t be expected to sit around for 5 hours watching men hit balls at each other. Particularly if they are in shirts.

      So these are the changes I propose to make this “sport” more accessible for families and better overall.

      Scrap 5 set games. Actually scrap sets. Sets are an archaic construct whose very reaon for being is lost in the mists of times. They are probably sexist too. As a woman I take offence at the name “sets”. I don’t know why. I just do. And that is all you need to know.

      Shirts. Why are they worn? Look at this gallery. Take note of picture 3.

      http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/sport/gallery-fnbe6xeb-1226256819183?page=3

      As a woman I approve of these pictures. It goes to show that young Croatian has woman at heart. At least he tried to make it less boring.

      So I bet you are wondering how we decide a winner. Easy.

      The games are to start at 3.30pm. Sundays are fine. The game will consist of men that look like Novak without shirts on hitting the ball at each other a maximum of 20 times. No serves. All these faults and stuff just get in road.
      After 20 hits if no one has missed then the players are to retire to the side of the court. Oil is then rubbed on their torsos. Shirts are also applied. The players are then mad to face each other across the net…..hang on no net, it gets in the way…..face each other at 10 paces and proceed to rip their shirts off. The winner will be decided by audience voting on their mobiles as to who ripped the shirt the better. The app will be available for download on the iPhone store and Android market.

      Please take note of this picture as to the correct ripping technique.

      http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/sport/gallery-fnbe6xeb-1226256819183?page=2

      The whole thing could be over by 5.

      I can’t see a problem to be honest. it would make Tennis the number 1 viewing sport for woman in the world in about 5 minutes.

      # The above comments may or may not be the view held by the author. The author has no idea really and is otherwise distracted looking at pictures 2 and 3.

    • I hate pies says:

      11:30am | 30/01/12

      Ha ha - you should write articles for the punch; this is much better than the tripe they pedal.
      On the issue of boringness, tennis is the most stale of all sports; they should allow sledging. The game would be much more interesting; even mike the players up if need be. Or give the crowd water pistols.

    • Wynston Cruso says:

      11:56am | 30/01/12

      The only way I’d watch Tennis is if they introduced a multi ball round. This also goes for Cricket.

    • Tim says:

      12:39pm | 30/01/12

      Substitute men for women and you have a winner.

    • Billybob says:

      01:04pm | 30/01/12

      what was that drivel??? Please…

    • ShamWow says:

      01:28pm | 30/01/12

      haha, nice one SD.

    • Daniel says:

      11:16am | 30/01/12

      Hey Bill you should be the lead act at Melbourne Comedy Festival,sounds like you are a clown,it was a game of tennis,with both be grossly overpaid get a grip ,or maybe your have too tight a grip.

    • Bill says:

      11:42am | 30/01/12

      Hey Dan - was any major internationally watched event held in your town over the last fortnight?

      No there wasn’t.

      Jealousy’s a curse, pal.

    • Billy says:

      11:24am | 30/01/12

      Hi Anthony

      Great read !  More angles than a protractor factory.  Love it.  What a match it was.

      Would like to hear David Penberthy’s thoughts on the match as well.  Commenting on the Andrew Bolt public censorship issue last December, David offered this pearl of wisdom:
      “The definition of abuse will be key here, and there will be nothing stopping crackpots or pests from trying their chances under this law anyway, or preventing people who have been deservedly criticised (to use the example again, say the Serbian minority which disrupts the Australian Open) from taking legal action despite the fact that their actions should rightly be deplored.”

      I took the bait on that one, and asked David why he singled out Serbian fans as being those who disrupt the Australian Open.  Admittedly, David did say “minority”.  But last time I checked, it takes two parties to have a fight.  The irony of his comments - made in the context of racially charged comments made by Andrew Bolt - certainly wasn’t lost on me.  Yes David, by identifying one party, but not the other party, that makes you look a little bit ... biased.

      Anyway, I would be interested to hear David’s thoughts on last night’s game, and the conduct of the Serbian fans.  Were they loud ?  Yes.  Were they well behaved ?  Yes.  I guess good behaviour doesn’t make for exciting writing.

      Anyway, enough ranting for now.  Still getting over last night’s game.  Well played Novak and Rafa !

      Thanks

    • I hate pies says:

      11:26am | 30/01/12

      They’ve gotta speed the court/balls up, so someone can actually hit a winner. These blokes are the best in the world, yet they can’t hit a ball that can get past the other bloke. Seriously, these players aren’t super-human; give them the tools to win and see who’s the best player, not who can go the longest.

    • Cynicised says:

      04:17pm | 30/01/12

      It’s not the balls or the court that’s the problem with these two (although then players did complain that the balls were heavy)’ it’s the inability to alter their game. They are both dedicated glued-to-the- base liners. If either of them had served and volleys, or chipped and charged, mixed it up a bit the match would have been a lot quicker, but neither of them could alter their mindset enough to try something new. Yes, they would have been passed or lobbed fairly often, the accuracy was amazing, but it would have given their opponent something to think about. If they had been, too good. These guys are warriors, but they aren’t thinkers. Give me the smarts of The Fed any day!

    • Knemon says:

      11:38am | 30/01/12

      Best game of tennis I have ever watched, I only left the couch for fridge and loo visits. I can’t believe that it went for nearly six hours; I was so enthralled it felt like half that time, though grog may have played a part in that!
      confused

    • Tony L says:

      11:41am | 30/01/12

      So much more valuable to the world at large than, say, the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle, hey Anthony?

    • Tony L says:

      11:42am | 30/01/12

      So much more valuable to the world at large than, say, the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle, hey Anthony?

    • The Black Poloneck says:

      12:59pm | 30/01/12

      @Tony L - your comment appeared in two places at the same time - that’s spooky man…

    • TommyP says:

      03:22pm | 30/01/12

      No Black Poloneck.  It is caused when the Higgs-Boson particle splits in to 2, giving the illusion of a Double Post.  I am sure if we had the great Jim Courier on line, he would explain to us HOW this effect came about, and, what Higgs-Boson are thinking right now…..

    • Anthony Sharwood

      Anthony Sharwood says:

      04:43pm | 30/01/12

      As you know Tony, my point in the Higgs Boson story was not to denigrate the discovery. It was to highlight the hypocrisy of people who question one bit of science they can’t measure themselves (climate change) while accepting another (Higgs boson). Back to the tennis.

    • chris says:

      11:50am | 30/01/12

      Q -“How do you sum up five hours and 53 minutes of the most epic tennis imaginable between two guys with the stamina of marathon runners, the dynamism of sprinters and the skill of marksmen?”
      A- You just did.

    • thatmosis says:

      11:53am | 30/01/12

      Two overpaid ball hitters postulating and invoking their God for what, more bloody money. If it was a team effort their is some merit but as individuals their ego’s are the only thing they play for, plus the millions of course. We cant afford to feed and house the people who live on the streets but there is always money for these clowns. Its about time we got our priorities straight and got away from this crass commercialism. These clowns are paid millions to advertise for certain manufacturers and the public picks up the bill for this in the inflated prices they expect us to pay for their goods.
        As for womens tennis, what a sham, either we have equality or we dont. Put both together and see who takes the prize and thats equality not this crap they now have where the women play less games for the same money, what a crock.

    • Tubesteak says:

      01:01pm | 30/01/12

      Who is this “we” you are talking about?

      I feed and house myself. If other people can’t manage the same then nuts to them. I don’t need a “we” to do it for me. Neither should anyone else.

    • ShamWow says:

      01:32pm | 30/01/12

      @thatmosis, love should always trump hate…remember that.

    • Blind Freddy says:

      02:35pm | 30/01/12

      @Tubesteak

      Yeah! Stuff the physically and mentally disabled. If Tubesteak can do it- noone else has an excuse.

    • Fedregile says:

      11:56am | 30/01/12

      Hey can those w#nkers in mel plz get over it, we have just witnessed the greatest match in sports history btw 2 true warriors, who gives a f*** whether mel or syd hosted the event, it ain’t got nothing to do with it.

      As a federer fan for yrs, i am ashamed. If only Fed has half of the mental toughness of these two guys, he would’ve won 25 slams. Like they say, talent is overstated if u haven’t got the EQ to go with it….... talent wise, Federer has underachieved with his 16 grand slams; toughness wise, Federer has overachieved, he is not worthy of his 16 slams based on his mental fragility.

    • SM says:

      01:04pm | 30/01/12

      lol

      What a bunch of gibberish nonsense that is

    • Emily says:

      12:07pm | 30/01/12

      Match of the century? Not even close, I’m afraid. Borefest of The Century, more like.

      Look up some Borg-McEnroe matches on youtube if you want to see what a real tennis match looks like.

    • Biggles says:

      01:11pm | 30/01/12

      Slug fest of the giants with hardly a foot off the back of the court, the rest of the court has become superflous, just something for the ball to fly over.  I am amused though, how youngsters get a little over excited when they are told by the media that this game was “the best that ever there was, there was,  the best that ever there was” and how easily they fall in line.

    • TommyP says:

      03:30pm | 30/01/12

      Every final is “the best ever…..”  Makes for a great build up of propaganda and marketing for next years tournament.  I too am disappointed in not seeing a single advance on the net, some stealth, cunning…..

    • LJ Dots says:

      04:35pm | 30/01/12

      @Emily, I sort of agree with you in that I don’t think you can say ‘the best ever’ about one match.

      I relish the classic matches when I’m lucky enough to see them. To name just a few, Borg/McEnroe. Wilander/Cash. Connors/Rosewall and last night was yet another one. All great games, each with their own unique drama.

    • Pod says:

      12:15pm | 30/01/12

      Put simply, it was NUCKIN FUTS!!

    • Brenda Standley says:

      12:46pm | 30/01/12

      Reminiscent of the great days of tennis played by Bjorn Borg, my all time favourite . Brilliant stuff !

    • Borris says:

      01:10pm | 30/01/12

      Your joking right ?  Match of the century….  well maybe for tennis….  A game were they play for 20 seconds then stop for a breather and a towel wipe, change of shirt and a nice sit down drink…    try a sport were your go hard for the whole 8 hours plus on a volcano field !    Triathlon events are far tougher than this wimpy sport…..

    • MrBojangles says:

      01:29pm | 30/01/12

      Of course it’s match of the century, we have only been in this new century for 11 years. I love misleading headings.

    • Bertington says:

      01:30pm | 30/01/12

      Good to be in Perth for this one. Epic tennis and still a decent nights sleep

    • Anjuli says:

      01:37pm | 30/01/12

      I am with those who say ,women should be playing 5 sets ,for equal pay or get paid 3/5 .To those who are with the Sydney ,Melbourne divide get over it ,isn’t it good enough to say it is The Australian open .

    • Justin of Earlwood says:

      01:41pm | 30/01/12

      What to say about the Aus Open?

      Mens:

      - I went to an exhibition of ball bouncing & some tennis broke out.
      - The first game of the final told you it was going to go on forever. Sunday night is a stupid time for the final.
      - The depth in mens tennis is outstanding.

      Womens:

      - Too hard to know who’s who because half of them are called “former world number one”.
      - The final wasn’t sold out. For obvious reasons.
      - They have a serious credibility problem with the lack of consistency & depth on the tour. It wasn’t a shock that Stosur went out in the 1st round. It was a shock that she won a slam despite not having a backhand. And then followed it up with early exists in the next few tournaments.

    • Peter says:

      01:56pm | 30/01/12

      Boring slugfest. Fittest wins, not the best tennis player. Where’s the finesse, the serve/volley, the approach from the short ball? With slow courts, we see the death of the truly great players like federer. McEnroe would never have taken a set form these guys in these conditions. the ball just won’t die!!!! I hate it!!!
      I turned off at 5-5 in the first set knowing it was going to go forever and i prefer sleep.
      (and who cares about melbourne)

    • TheExpat says:

      02:03pm | 30/01/12

      Fantastic match, well worth watching to the death. The few times I thought Djokovic was wilting he bounced straight back; who give a hoot where it was played!

    • TheExpat says:

      02:04pm | 30/01/12

      Fantastic match, well worth watching to the death. The few times I thought Djokovic was wilting he bounced straight back; who give a hoot where it was played!

    • Farken says:

      02:16pm | 30/01/12

      the men played 5 sets the winner got 2.3 million or 460,000 per set the runner up got 1.3million or 260000 per set and the women played 2 sets and the winner got 1.15million per set and the runner up got 1.3million or 650000 per set now that is real fair right so cut how many the men play or up the number the women play

    • marley says:

      02:39pm | 30/01/12

      Or, you could look at it this way.  It’s entertainment.  Actors don’t get paid by how long the movie is that they’re making;  they get paid by how much the backers figure they’re worth to get bums on seats or sales in video stores. Tom Cruise earns more than Kathy Bates or Robert Duval not because he’s a better actor (he’s not), nor because he works harder (I doubt he does) but because he makes more money for the backers.  Arguably, tennis is the same.

    • Matt F says:

      03:09pm | 30/01/12

      Interesting point Marley. Though if we consider it from an entertainment angle, the mens final doubled the average rating of the womens final (despite going for about 4 hours longer,) the mens final sells out a lot quicker then the women’s final, which sometimes doesn’t sell out at all, and during the Tennis season the men’s tournaments attract higher ratings, crowds, spondordhip dollars and interest then the women’s tournaments. Based on that I’d say that the majority of interest in the event is because of the men

    • marley says:

      03:38pm | 30/01/12

      @Matt F. - then by all means, pay the women as though they were Kathy Bates and not Tom Cruise.  But don’t do it on the basis of the amount of work they do in what is essentially an entertainment industry.

    • LJ Dots says:

      04:59pm | 30/01/12

      I’d like to see the women play best of five but for a different reason. The matches on the womens side have become too one dimensional for my liking due to the best of three rule. The result is poor quality matches lacking real drama, two factors that are missing are physical endurance and mental tenacity of the players which only really kicks for longer matches.

      Serena Williams may be able to belt the ball for 2 or 3 sets against a physically weaker opponent, but as the match extends to 4 or 5 sets she may start to wilt while the smaller, fitter, more tenacious player learns/adapts and claws their way back.

      I don’t know if it will ever happen or even result in better matches, but I would at least like the chance to see it tried.

    • marley says:

      06:07pm | 30/01/12

      @LJDots - interesting point.  I’d like to see that tested as well.  I seem to recall that there was a period in the early Olympic era when women weren’t allowed to run more than 200 m because it was thought they couldn’t do so.  Well, we know that was wrong.  So why not try longer sets.  But I still think it’s all entertainment, and entertainment isn’t measured by hours worked.

    • Pete says:

      02:41pm | 30/01/12

      Since when has Australia been a land full of whinging, whiney and just plain annoying people. Seriously, we have to take a long hard look at ourselves and notice that we have it pretty damn good and that instead of whinging about every single article ever written we could perhaps be happy and enjoy things. On a side note, why on earth are people who hate tennis commenting on this article. If you hate watching tennis, why would you enjoy reading an article about tennis? Oh wait, I know, it’s because you want to sound knowledgeable and fit in when you friends bring up the match and you don’t want to feel left out of something that was great, because you are insecure and haven’t really achieved anything in your life. That might actually explain why you hate these amazing tennis players, because you are jealous that they are getting paid millions of dollars and being recognised by the entire planet for doing something they enjoy. Here’s a tip, get over it, and everyone stop whinging. (I know this might sound like I’m whinging about whinging, but it’s for the greater good, maybe I’ll write a comment against myself for whinging…but that would just end up in an endless circle)

      Ps: Melbourne is a lovely city to visit, but I wouldn’t live there because let’s face it, the weather is pretty bad.

    • TommyP says:

      03:59pm | 30/01/12

      I love it.  Had a good laugh. 
      And agreed on Melbourne.  Like someone elses baby.  Great to look at , buty full well knowing it goes back to the rightful owner…..  Melbourne, for only two types - Victorians, and, idiots!

    • erbert says:

      04:02pm | 30/01/12

      Oh the irony….

    • Spills says:

      03:00pm | 30/01/12

      It was a good game but the sport is still lacking that special something.  Crowds should be able to make as much noise as they like at anytime. This would introduce a whole new dimension to the game. Wankers and dummy spitters would be sledged off the court (or could gain crowd support) and all those grunters would be silenced. Home court advantage would take on a whole new meaning. People should be able to move in the stands and hang from the bleaches waving huge blow-up fingers trying to distract the players like when a basketballer is at the foul line. Open slather from the crowd and players I say, it would really spice up this mildly entertaining game.
      Easiest solution to fix the women’s game……play naked! They would surely deserve their pay then and I’m sure women’s tennis would sky rocket to the number 1 most watched sport. It would be on 7 nights a week with Superbowl size ratings.

    • Rose says:

      05:03pm | 30/01/12

      You’re absolutely correct, fix the game by encouraging crowds to be disrespectful. Up there for thinking, idiot!! About as stupid as women playing naked. I realize you think you’re being funny, but in a world here we are lamenting the lack of respect people have for each other you come here and show us why the bar is often set so low.
      Last night’s match was brilliant and a disrespectful crowd would have made it unwatchable.

    • Rose says:

      05:07pm | 30/01/12

      Ant, if you’re going to write a review of a match you should at least have the decency to watch the bloody thing. What kind of child are you if you are incapable of having the occasional late night and functioning the next day? If staying up really is beyond you, let someone who did watch the match write the review, simple!

    • Jaypalm says:

      08:46pm | 30/01/12

      As Nadal is a left-hander, if Djokovic hit a forehand down the line, Nadal would be defending it with a forehand, not a backhand. Just sayin’.

    • Sean Williams says:

      04:40am | 31/01/12

      Terrific match but still a bit behind Federer-Nadal epic at Wimbledon in 2008. Even the Federer-Roddick Wimbledon final that went to 16-14 in the fifth the following year ranks above. Not least because Wimbledon is THE tournament the players want to win. The Australian Open may be technically a major but lacks the gravitas and sense of occasion of the other three “slams” - in fact it often seems a bit more like a glorified tour event

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      06:08am | 19/06/12

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