29/01/2012 09:42 GMT | Updated 11/05/2012 06:12 BST

Australian Open: Novak Djokovic Beats Rafael Nadal In Epic Final (PHOTOS)

Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in the final of the Australian Open to claim his third successive grand slam title in Melbourne.

The world number one secured victory in five sets, winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 after 5 hours, 53 minutes, the longest game in Australian Open history and the longest Grand Slam singles final in the history of the professional game.

Having picked up the trophy, Djokovic, 24, paid respects to his opponent who he has now defeated in seven straight finals.

"Rafa - you are one of the best players ever,” said the Serb. “We made history tonight. I wish you all the best for this season. I hope we will have many more matches like this."

Nadal was customarily gracious in defeat. He said: "Thank you very much all Australia... and thank you everybody. I had a fantastic two weeks, and with all the love you showed me I will never forget this match."

For the Spaniard, it will be a particularly difficult defeat to come to terms with, having been 4-2 up in the fifth set, with his opponent seemingly suffering fatigue following his five hour semi-final against Andy Murray on Friday.

However, the Serb rallied, breaking back twice to lead 6-5 before finally claiming the win. Djokovic celebrated by ripping off his shirt.