Reef Nadal surpassed on Sunday Daniil Medvedev in a classic final Australian Open, rallying from two sets to claim a record 21 Grand Slam titles, just months after fearing his glorious career could be ended by injury.
With Novak Djokovic Sent off for deportation and Roger Federer recovering from knee surgery, the Spaniard now holds a major title advantage over his big rivals, after surviving all five sets 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4. 7 -5, in a game of nerves at the Rod Laver Arena.
Riding the wave of the crowd’s raucous support, a Nadal An established man, he put in one of his best performances to deny Medvedev victory again, less than three years after breaking the Russian’s heart in five sets in the 2019 US Open final.
In a dramatic situation Nadal he was two points away from the title when he lost serve for the match at 5-4. The Mallorcan stood firm to break Medvedev again and served the match loveless, rushing to hit a backhand ball in an impressive knockout.
Nadal he dropped his racket, shook his head and smiled, then kicked a tennis ball and raised his fists in delight.
It was a triumph that defied time and logic: the 35-year-old completed a five-set win from a two-set deficit for the first time in 15 years, since he outpointed Mikhail Youzhny in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2007.
“For me it’s incredible. A month and a half ago I didn’t know if I could play tennis again and today I’m in front of you with the trophy. Thank you very much for the support,” said a sincere Nadal to the media.
It is one of the most exciting moments of my career. I will remember it for the rest of my life.”
Having suffered four final defeats in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019, Nadal can now savor a second crown in Melbourne Park, 13 years after beating Federer in the deciding match in 2009.
The long hair and shorts of that decade have been forgotten, but the class and fighting spirit endure in the face of the titanic battles of Nadal to recover from injuries.
Having missed Wimbledon due to fatigue and the US Open due to a chronic condition in his left foot, Nadal he came close to quitting at the end of 2021 and felt blessed just to perform at Melbourne Park this year.
His ability to play seven matches seemed miraculous to the Spaniard, who joins Djokovic, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men to have won each Grand Slam title twice.
Now more than ever, the number one in the world, Djokovic, can regret his failed attempt to defend his title in Melbourne without getting the Covid-19 vaccine
His deportation ripped the tournament wide open, leaving a void for Nadal fill it up and deal a potentially decisive blow in contention for the Grand Slams.