Rafa Nadal now stands alone at 21 Grand Slam singles titles after his epic victory against Russia’s world no. 2 Daniil Medvedev.Embed from Getty Images
The match lasted 5 hours and 24 minutes with both players fighting against fatigue.
It was Medvedev that became the only player in the tournament to come from two sets down to claim a victory when he defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets at the quarterfinals stage.
After the first two sets Nadal had to match that feat, but history was against him.
No player had come from two sets to nil to win the men’s Australian Open final since Roy Emerson back in 1965. Nadal himself had not won from such a position since the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2007.
It was one of the most emotional matches of my career,” Nadal said during the trophy ceremony. “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 I 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.”
Medvedev looked in total control after two sets, although he had to see off a set point in the ninth game.
Nadal pushed hard for an early break in the third.
The opening game of the third set lasted 8:39 with Nadal looking at a break point after Medvedev double faulted, which was saved by an Ace.
Nadal would launch his fightback in the ninth game fo the third set, he broke and then held to stay in the match.
As the match wore on it was Medvedev that was looking more venerable. He had the trainer out several times to massage his thighs but the big Russian was able to use his serve to keep in games.
The second game of the fourth set lasted over nine minutes with Nadal fighting off break points. The next game would see Nadal break.
That set off a sequence of breaks. A 10 minute game saw Medvedev broken for the second time afer he had broken back.
Service holds followed and Nadal was level at 2-2.
In the fifth set it was Nadal that broke in the fifth game. He consolidated the break after a 13:39 game.
Nadal was looking likely to win the match but failed to serve out the match at 5-4.
He would have had memories of two previous lossed against Djokovic and Federer where he let a break slip in a fifth set before losing the match.
It was not to happen again. Nadal broke again in the 11th game to again have the opportunity to serve for the championship.
This time he held to love to complete an amazing comeback.
The final score was 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Despite a very late finnish to the match in Melbourne almost everyone had stayed to the end. The crowd rejoiced and acclaimed the greatness of Nadal as he took his Grand Slam singles tally to 21.
It was an amazing achievement for the Spaniard. A foot injury saw him considering retirement but he overcame that.
“One month and a half ago I might have said this would be my last Australian Open, but now that’s plenty of energy to keep going,” he said.
“I’ll do my best to see you next year.”
“I was not ready physically for these kind of battles, honestly. I didn’t practice enough to be ready for it,” admitted Nadal.
“I give it everything that I have inside, believe me. I even can’t celebrate. But was the day to give everything. I enjoyed the fight. I enjoyed the emotions. At the end, (to) have this trophy with me means everything.”