Rafael Nadal believes that he can take away plenty of positives from the Australian Open, despite losing in the final to Novak Djokovic.
It may be a seventh defeat at the hands of the world number one but the Spaniard could have won the title himself in the fifth set - this is the closest that he has got to beating Djokovic in the last twelve months.
The pair put on a spectacular final that went the distance, the first time that they had played a five set match, that lasted five hours and fifty three minutes; the longest Grand Slam final in history.
Both Nadal and Djokovic displayed a superhuman level of stamina but it was the Serb who came through 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5.
This superb match from Nadal was a million miles away from two weeks ago when the Spaniard thought he was going to have to pull out of the tournament the night before his first match because of a problem with the knee.
Nadal had expressed before the Australian Open that he was uncertain how he was going to be able to perform due to being hampered by a shoulder injury during the off season.
But Nadal showed that he had narrowed the gap on Djokovic and he was pleased with his performance for the entire two weeks.
Speaking to AFP after the match Nadal said: "Physically it was the toughest match I ever played. I think we played a great tennis match. It was I think a very good show in my opinion. I enjoyed being part of this event and this match. That's the truth.
"I wanted to win, but I am happy about how I did. I had my chances against the best player in the world today.
"(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."
Before the Australian Open the Spaniard revealed that he would be taking all of February off to get his shoulder back to 100% before the start of the clay court season.
And Nadal will have his French Open crown to defend at the end of May as he goes for seventh title at Roland Garros.
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw