Nadal wins record-breaking 21st Grand Slam in Australian Open
With Novak Djokovic
forced out by deportation and Roger Federer recovering from knee surgery, the
Spanish great is now one major title clear of his ‘Big Three’ rivals after
surviving the 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 7-5 thriller at Rod Laver Arena.
wave of raucous support from the crowd, a vintage Nadal pulled off one of his
finest performances to deny Medvedev again, less than three years after leaving
the Russian heartbroken in five sets at the 2019 US Open final.
In a match
steeped in drama, Nadal was two points from the title but was broken as he
served for the match at 5-4.
He held firm
to break Medvedev again and served out the match to love, rushing in to deliver
a backhand volley as a stunning coup de grace.
racket, Nadal shook his head and grinned, then kicked a tennis ball away and
pumped his fists in delight.
It was a
triumph that defied time and logic, the 35-year-old completing his first
five-set win from a two-set deficit in 15 years — since overhauling Mikhail
Youzhny in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2007.
suffered four final defeats in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019, Nadal can now savour
a second Melbourne Park crown, 13 years after beating Federer in the 2009
hair and pirate shorts of that decade have fallen by the way-side, but the
class and fighting spirit endure in the face of Nadal’s titanic battles to
recover from injuries.
missed Wimbledon due to fatigue and the US Open because of a chronic condition
in his left foot, Nadal was on the brink of quitting in late-2021 and felt
blessed just to turn up at Melbourne Park this year.
to play seven matches felt miraculous for the Spaniard, who joins Djokovic, Rod
Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men to win each Grand Slam title twice.
Now more than
ever, world number one Djokovic may rue his failed bid to defend his title in
Melbourne without COVID-19 vaccination.
deportation threw the tournament wide open, leaving a vacuum for Nadal to fill
and strike a potentially decisive blow in the Grand Slam race.