The world No1 edged to a 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 7-5 victory in an energy-sapping five hours and 53 minutes, with the longest ever Grand Slam final reaching its conclusion at 01:37 local time.
And despite the 24-year-old Serb’s impressive 2011, in which he won three Majors including Wimbledon and the US Open for the first time, he believes his latest success is his greatest triumph.
“Wimbledon is right up there next to this one because it’s just the tournament that I always dreamed of winning,” said the five-time Grand Slam winner.
“But this one I think comes out on the top because just the fact that we played almost six hours is incredible.
“I think it’s probably the longest final in the history of all Grand Slams, and just to hear that fact is making me cry, really.
“I’m very proud just to be part of this history, part of the elite of the players that have won this tournament several times.
“And I was very flattered to be playing in front of Rod Laver, in front of the all-time greats, and in front of 15,000 people that stayed until 01:30am. It’s incredible, really.”
Djokovic fought back from a break down in the deciding set to retain his crown and dash Nadal’s hopes of a second Australian Open title.
But Djokovic, while admitting it was a shame one of them had to lose such a great final, does not feel sorry for his Spanish rival.
“I was in that position a couple years ago, losing most of the semi-finals and finals against him and Roger Federer in Grand Slams – so I know how it feels.
“Unfortunately there had to only be one winner because we both gave it all. We both put 100 per cent of our abilities on the court and played to the last moment.
“Unfortunately there couldn’t be two winners, but he definitely deserved to be a winner as well tonight. I would be saying same thing if I’m sitting here as a loser.”