Rafael Nadal admitted he was happy with his 'best loss' after going down in five sets in an extraordinary Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic.
The Spaniard eventually went down 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 7-5 in the longest Grand Slam final on record, Djokovic being the last man standing after five hours and 53 minutes.
Nadal led 4-2 in the final set against a man who looked down and out, only for the world number one to conjure reserves of energy from somewhere to take him across the line.
And the world's second best player said failing to win an 11th Grand Slam title was nothing to be ashamed of.
"Physically it was the toughest match I ever played," Nadal said in the early hours of Monday morning.
"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.
"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."
Nadal said he was pleased he had been able to match Djokovic physically and mentally, something he could not do in 2011 when the Serb beat him six times in succession.
"I didn't play at a lower level than him for a long time (tonight), so that's a very positive thing for me," Nadal said. "I am very happy about my mentality tonight.
"I never put him in this situation during 2011, so that's another positive thing for me. I didn't have mental problems today against him. I've probably never said that many positive things after I lose."
Nadal's defeat in Melbourne was in stark contrast to his classic five-set win over Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2008, when the Spaniard won 9-7 in the fifth set.
"For me it was a little bit more special in 2008," he said with a smile.
"But I really understand that this was a really special match, and probably a match that's going to be in my mind, not because I lost, no, because the way that we played."