(CNN) -- Rafael Nadal claimed his first Australian Open title and denied a tearful Roger Federer his 14th grand slam crown after another epic five-set victory, 7-5 3-6 7-6 3-6 6-2 in Melbourne on Sunday.
Nadal holds the trophy as an emotional Federer takes in his defeat.
As expected, it proved a titanic struggle between the two leading players in world tennis, who were meeting for the first time since Nadal took Federer's Wimbledon title last July in another five-set classic.
Nadal, who played the longest match in Australian Open history to beat Fernando Verdasco in his semifinal, was expected to show signs of tiredness, but it was Federer who wilted in the decider.
He dropped his service as Nadal led 4-1 and faltered again when serving at 2-5 down, saving three match points but eventually succumbing as he hit a forehand long.
It left Nadal the winner after four hours 23 minutes of seesaw action to claim his sixth grand slam title and cement his position as world number one.
At the prize presentation a bitterly disappointed Federer admitted he had "felt better" before shedding tears as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
He recovered to congratulate Nadal, the two men sharing a warm embrace of mutual respect.
"It is very special for me. It's a dream win, one grand slam on a hard court," said the 22-year-old Nadal, the first Spanish player to win the Australian Open.
"I've worked very hard all my life to improve my tennis outside of clay. I'm very happy, very happy to win the title."
The match started with both exchanging early breaks of service until Nadal pulled ahead with a further break to claim the advantage.
The second set followed a similar pattern, with an early exchange of breaks, but this time it was the Swiss ace who edged it as Nadal netted to lose a marathon eighth game.
Federer looked to be getting on top and had no less than six break points on Nadal's service in the third set, the Spaniard coming back from 0-40 down in a pivotal service game.
In the tiebreak it was Nadal who pulled ahead again, reaching set point with a rare volleyed winner and sealing it as Federer double faulted.
Federer showed his fighting qualities to force a decider, but once again it was his nemesis Nadal who proved the stronger despite spending nearly 10 hours on court in his final two matches at Melbourne Park.