It was my toughest match: Rafa

Rafael Nadal said the Australian Open final was one of the best losses of his career after he went down fighting in a six-hour epic against Novak Djokovic. In a dramatic finale to the year's first major, Djokovic outlasted Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 in 5hr 53 min, the longest grand slam final in history.

Rafael Nadal during yesterday's Aus Open final against Djokovic.

The match started on Sunday evening and finished in the early hours of Monday morning as the world's two best players battled to a standstill in front of a disbelieving crowd. "Physically it was the toughest match I ever played," Nadal said. "I think we played a great tennis match. It was I think a very good show in my opinion," he added. "I enjoyed being part of this event and this match. That's the truth.

Wanted to win
"I wanted to win, but I am happy about how I did. I had my chances against the best player in the world today." Nadal said he was pleased he had been able to match Djokovic physically and mentally, something he had not been able to do in 2011 when the Serb beat him six times in succession. "I didn't play at a lower level than him for a long time (tonight), so that's a very positive thing for me," Nadal said. "I am very happy about my mentality tonight."

The Spaniard was also upbeat about his performance throughout the entire tournament and said it bodes well for a successful 2012. "(I'm) very happy with my level during both weeks. I realise the whole tournament I did well. I did a lot of very positive things, much more than in 2011 for most of the time," he said.

"I played more aggressive. I played more winners than ever. My serve worked well. The mentality and the passion were there (better than ever). "So that's very positive aspects on the whole game. So I just lost the final of a grand slam. I am not happy to lose the final, yes, but that's one of the losses that I am happy with in my career." 

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