Written by Senior Tennis Editor Peter Gehr
The amazing men’s singles final of the Australian Open 2012 saw tennis energy expenditure pushed to new limits by Djokovic & Nadal. The 5 set marathon match that ran for just under 6 hours was the most sensational tennis game ever played. In contrast, it only took Victoria Azarenka 2 sets to defeat Maria Sharapova in the women’s singles final.
Pushing their bodies to exhaustion resulted in Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal barely able to stand at the end of the tournament as the customary speeches droned on in the early hours of Monday morning.
The photographer’s demands were almost too much for Djokovic as he lifted the winning trophy above his head several times.
The epic encounter between these two elite athletes will go down in tennis sports history as the longest and best ever Australian Open Grand Slam final.
Tennis Energy Expenditure Pushed to New Limits by Djokovic & Nadal
The physical exertion of battling through last night’s epic six-hour Australian Open men’s final has been compared to competing in the gruelling Hawaiian Ironman race.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were so fatigued after their five-set showdown – the longest final played in a major championship – that the cramping players were given chairs to sit on as they waited for the trophy presentation at Rod Laver arena.
Afterwards, Nadal described the slogfest as “the toughest match I ever played”, while Djokovic, who ripped off his shirt in raw emotion, described how his toes bled from the exertion.
“You’re in pain, you’re suffering, you know that you’re trying to activate your legs, you’re trying to push yourself another point, just one more point, and one more game”
“You’re going through so much suffering your toes are bleeding. Everything is just outrageous, you know, but you’re still enjoying that pain.”
James Zois, a coach with Tennis Victoria State Academy and sports science PhD candidate at Victoria University, likened their effort to competing in the Hawaii Ironman, triathlon’s most famous and gruelling race.
“From a fatigue point of view there are a few different areas – metabolic fatigue, cardiovascular fatigue and muscular fatigue too,” he said.
“They have obviously expended everything that they possibly could and it just comes down to a psychological component as well, how far people can push past that pain barrier and try to get the best out of themselves.
“Recovery from a match like last night’s is a long-term process. It could take up to a couple of weeks before they fully recover again. These guys are elite athletes, they compete 50 weeks of the year. They’re pretty accustomed to that pain. I guess they have taken it to another level last night but they’re quite well-tuned machines.”
Throughout the marathon match on a hot and humid Melbourne night, the pair rehydrated constantly with electrolytes and were eating gels high in simple carbohydrates to try to sustain their energy levels.
But as they physically fatigued, Mr Zois said, the shots they were playing started to change.
It was hard to gauge how long they physically could have battled on for.
“What you find with athletes that are so motivated and so focused on their pursuits is that they wouldn’t stop unless they had some sort of a muscular injury that prevented them from moving,” he said.
“I guess they are the things they should have been doing, and then there’s the things which Djokovic would have been doing which may be different, especially after winning the Australian Open. You’re likely to go out and enjoy yourself a little bit, maybe have a couple of glasses of champagne,” he said. (Original story here)
The sports world saw tennis energy expenditure pushed to new limits by Djokovic & Nadal they now need time to recover from the enormous output that has their bodies in a fatigued state. Known for their endurance and high levels of fitness, these athletes performed like champions and the fans in the stadium were given a thrill of a life-time from beginning to end.