Daniil Medvedev was eyeing two majors on the bounce after he claimed his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open, but Rafael Nadal staged a famous comeback from two sets down to win a marathon Australian Open final in thrilling fashion. It is only Nadalís second title at Melbourne Park after he won the tournament back in 2009, and after his comeback, this second crown is all the more remarkable.
Spainís Rafael Nadal reacts after winning against Russiaís Daniil Medvedev during their menís singles final match on day fourteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne
Image credit: Getty Images
Rafael Nadal roared back to secure a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title as he outfought Daniil Medvedev in an epic victory in the Australian Open final.
The Russian second seed was eyeing two majors on the bounce after he claimed his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open, but Nadal staged a famous comeback from two sets down to win a marathon match in thrilling fashion,
Medvedev, who lost out to Novak Djokovic in the 2021 showpiece at Melbourne Park, overwhelmed his legendary opponent early on with utterly relentless groundstrokes as he stormed into a commanding lead.
But the 35-year-old Nadal responded miraculously as he powered back to win the third and fourth sets, showing all his usual guts and resolve, and he went on to eventually defeat an exhausted Medvedev in a match that lasted well over five hours.
Nadal fired a big winner to begin the match, and it was immediately made abundantly clear that the Spaniard had the vast majority of the fans inside Rod Laver Arena on his side.
But Medvedev responded in unerring fashion to win five games in succession and sweep to the opening set with his opponent left dripping with sweat and unable to establish himself on serve.
The 25-year-old from Moscow was swiftly declared the "heavy favourite" for the title by Eurosportís Mats Wilander after Djokovic was deported from Melbourne in an acrimonious fashion before the start of the tournament, and it was clear to see why.
Nadal refused to be dictated to and found some inspiration in the second set to break serve after an incredible 40-shot rally ended with an audacious slice which brought the crowd to their feet.
The second set was far from over, however. Medvedev responded with a break of his own in a topsy-turvy passage of play which ultimately led to a dramatic tie-break.
Nadal had his moments to level up in an enthralling breaker, but it was Medvedev who seized the initiative with a string of rasping shots to take it 7-5 and double his advantage.
The sixth seed knew he simply had to respond in the third set, and it took until late in proceedings for him to do so. Medvedev allowed his incredible level to dip slightly, and Nadal capitalised ruthlessly to break for 5-4 and close it out.
Suddenly, it was Medvedev who was feeling the pressure as he ranted at the umpire about a range of topics, from the ball kids to the Nadal fans.
The fourth set was wild from the very beginning with three successive breaks of serve as Medvedev totally lost control on both his serve and of his cool while Nadal turned the screw.
The fans inside Rod Laver Arena could barely believe what they were watching as the marathon clash went to a deciding set, and the Spaniard somehow found a way to edge out his weary opponent amid unbearable tension and secure a famous victory at the second time of serving for the match.
It is only Nadalís second title at Melbourne Park after he won the tournament back in 2009, and after the comeback he has staged in the off-season following a spate of injuries, this second crown is all the more remarkable.
He has now moved clear of both of his legendary rivals, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who each have 20 Grand Slam singles titles. For Nadal, this was both a historic and unforgettable triumph.
Speaking with the trophy on Rod Laver Arena, the 35-year-old said: "Without a doubt it has been one of the most emotional moments of my tennis career.
"Having the support Iíve had over the last three weeks is going to stay in my heart for the rest of my life. Itís just amazing.
"Six weeks ago I didnít even know if I would be able to be back on the [ATP] Tour playing tennis again.
"Having this trophy in front me of here - you really donít know how much I fought to be here. I canít thank you enough for all the support I received."
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