Rafael Nadal after winning the 2022 Australian Open
Rafael Nadal after winning the 2022 Australian Open | (Photo by MARTIN KEEP/AFP via Getty Images)

Tennis | Australian Open 2022 | ‘One of the most emotional moments of my career’ Nadal secures two set comeback over Medvedev for historic 21st grand slam title

  • Rafael Nadal [6] def Daniil Medvedev [2] 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 7-5
  • Nadal battles from two sets to love down to win a record-breaking 21st grand slam title that puts him on top of the all-time list.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Rafael Nadal has described his win as one of the most emotional of his career as he completed a comeback from two sets to love down over Daniil Medvedev to win a record-breaking 21st grand slam title.

 

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Rafael Nadal [6] def Daniil Medvedev [2] 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 7-5

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Rafael Nadal
has achieved history after coming from two sets to love down to edge past Daniil Medvedev in five sets and a match that lasted five hours and 25 minutes. It was the US Open champion who made the better start as he was looking to become the first male singles player to win his second Grand Slam title straight after winning his first. Nadal’s lack of first serves cost him as the Russian created three break points in his opening three return games.

On his third opportunity, Medvedev broke and went from strength to strength as he sealed eight return points in a row to go 5-2 up in the opening set. There was no mistake from the world number two as he played flawless tennis to take the opening set in 42 minutes.

The second set saw the lowest quality of all the sets as Medvedev’s base level dropped as Nadal was starting to get his serve and game back together. The Russian’s first vulnerability on serve was pounced on by the 2009 winner as he broke for a 3-1 lead. After a couple of love holds in the match, the second set would go back on serve as Medvedev once again took advantage of Nadal’s inconsistent level to produce a stunning return game in the seventh game.

As the match went on Medvedev would get more and more irritated with the crowd’s noise between first and second serves. Nadal would take advantage of the Russian’s frustration as he broke again to serve for the second set at 5-3. Typifying this end-to-end match Nadal couldn’t convert set point or resist the Medvedev return pressure as he was broken straight away. This set would go to a tiebreak and despite having a 5-3 lead, Nadal couldn’t handle the depth or defensive rally tolerance of the Russian as a backhand pass sealed four points in a row and with it a two set to love lead.

It was now a mountain to climb for Nadal especially as he hadn’t won a match from two sets down since 2007 but if anyone could do it the Spaniard could and he wasn’t going to pass up on the opportunity of history. Nadal’s resilience was implemented early in the third set as he tested Medvedev and created break point but the Russian fended off the pressure. Medvedev then created opportunities of his own in the sixth game as Nadal’s inconsistency was continuing to cause problems. However the Spaniard willed himself to a hold of serve saving three break points and holding for 3-3.

Those missed break points would come back to Medvedev as Nadal raised his energy levels and his overall game as he broke in the ninth game with some stunning returns and groundstrokes. Nadal held his nerve to take the third set and extend this final.

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In the fourth set both players showed fatigue and poor decision-making as Medvedev was starting to mentally check-out of the match. After saving two break points on his own serve, Nadal gained control and some clinical winners sealed a break of serve at 2-1. The Russian remained defiant on return as he broke back for 2-2 but that didn’t last long as he continued to be inconsistent in his play.

After saving six break points with big serves and bold winners in ridiculous positions in the court, Medvedev couldn’t save a seventh as Nadal once again broke. The Spaniard had to work hard for the fourth set with the Russian continuing to extend the rallies and force Nadal to hit insane shots but the Spaniard’s mental determination and after saving break points in the eight game, held to love to level the match at two sets all.

A long break followed as both players were running on empty as they produced their best tennis when it mattered most with effective holds starting things off. The first blow was dealt by Nadal as a down the line forehand sealed the break for 3-2 which was followed by a gutsy hold as Medvedev pushed for the break but couldn’t convert three break points. As the Spaniard stepped up to serve for the match, the thought of history took its toll and on break point down the 20-time grand slam champion double faulted to hand the break back.

However as the five hour mark hit the thought of following in the footsteps of previous final disappointments entered the mind and that’s something Nadal was determined not to do this time around. A gutsy break followed by a hold to love sealed one of Nadal’s most significant grand slam wins of his career.

In other sports this would be a draw but there had to be a loser in Daniil Medvedev who was resilient in defeat and a winner in Rafael Nadal who now leads the all-time list of Grand Slam titles with 21, moving past Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

 

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‘One of the most emotional moments of my career.’

After the match Nadal admitted that this win ranks as one of the most emotional grand slam victories of his career, “It was one of the most emotional matches of my career,” the Spaniard told the ATP website.

“To share the court with Daniil was just an honour. It is amazing. To be honest, one and a half months ago I wasn’t sure if was able to be back on the Tour playing tennis again. But today I am here in front of all of you with this trophy in front of me. You are just amazing, thank you so much. Having the huge support I received over the past three weeks is going to stay in my heart for the rest of my life, so thank you very much.”

As for Medvedev, the Russian was full of praise for Nadal and tried to take the positives from the two weeks in Melbourne, “Tough to talk after playing [for] five hours and 30 minutes and losing, but I want to congratulate Rafa because what he did today, I was amazed,” Medvedev admitted to the ATP website.

“After the match I asked him, ‘Are you tired?’ because it was insane. You raised your level after the first two sets for your 21st Grand Slam title. You are an amazing champion, it was unbelievable.”

Medvedev heads into the rest of the season with confidence that he raised his level consistently and that it will take a big effort for any player to beat him this season as he could clinch world number one in Rotterdam in a couple of weeks.

As for Nadal he leads the Grand Slam title race after winning a record-breaking 21st grand slam title with his favourite grand slam in Paris next in May.  

 

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