Tennis

Australian Open 2022 | Rafael Nadal lifts title; makes history winning 21st Grand Slam

Spain's Rafael Nadal holds the trophy after winning against Russia's Daniil Medvedev in their men's singles final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne early on January 31, 2022.

Spain's Rafael Nadal holds the trophy after winning against Russia's Daniil Medvedev in their men's singles final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne early on January 31, 2022. | Photo Credit: AFP

Rafael Nadal roared back from two sets down to win a titanic five-set duel with Daniil Medvedev and claim a record 21st Grand Slam men’s title in the Australian Open final here on Sunday.

The Spanish great looked dead and buried as the Russian World No. 2 carved out a two-set lead but Nadal surged home for one of his mightiest comeback wins 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in five hours and 24 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

War of attrition

Nadal came out on top in the physical war of attrition to move ahead of era rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on the all-time list of men’s Major winners.

Djokovic missed his chance to improve on his nine Australian Open wins when he was deported over vaccination issues on the eve of the tournament, while Federer is injured.

It was one of the 35-year-old Spanish warrior’s greatest title victories in his 29th Grand Slam final as he won his second Australian Open, 13 years after his first in 2009.

“This has been one of the most emotional matches of my tennis career,” Nadal said.

Nadal also became only the fourth man to win each of the four Grand Slams twice and the third oldest man in the Open Era (since 1970) to win a Grand Slam title, behind Ken Rosewall and Federer.

The final went down to the bitter end with Nadal being broken as he served for the championship only for the Spaniard to break back.

On his second attempt to serve it out, Nadal powered to three match-points to win amid chaotic scenes in his player’s box and the frenzied crowd.

Fourth time

It is the fourth time in his storied career that Nadal has clawed back to win from two sets down, but the first time in a Slam final. It is the second time Nadal has denied Medvedev in a Grand Slam final, winning a five-set epic at the 2019 US Open. Nadal holds a 4-1 lead over Medvedev in their five matches to date.

It crowned an extraordinary effort from Nadal at the year’s opening Major, having to modify his game to compensate for a degenerative bone disease in his left foot that ended his 2021 season last August.

He then caught Covid in December which, he said, made him “very sick”.

Amazing champion

Medvedev had wrecked Djokovic’s calendar Grand Slam push and bid for a 21st title in New York four months ago and was aiming to do the same to Nadal in Melbourne.

Medvedev lost his second consecutive Australian Open final after falling in straight sets to Djokovic in last year’s final.

“It’s tough to talk after five hours 30 and losing but I want to congratulate Rafa because what you did today, I was amazed,” Medvedev said. “I thought you were going to get tired, and maybe you did a little, but you still won the match. You are an amazing champion.”

Going one better

Top seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, earlier, won their fourth Grand Slam, sweeping to the women’s doubles title beating Kazakhstan’s Anna Danilina and Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4. They were runners-up to Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka last year.

Krejcikova and Siniakova have won titles at Roland Garros (2018, 2021) and Wimbledon (2018) since making their debut as a partnership in 2016.


Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 3, 2022 5:34:33 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/australian-open-2022-rafael-nadal-lifts-title-makes-history-winning-21st-grand-slam/article38349754.ece