Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal Parera can officially call himself the greatest tennis player in history. After winning the thrilling final of the Australian Open 2022, he now has 21 Grand Slam titles to his name. This makes him the first male tennis player ever to achieve this and he has surpassed Federer and Djokovic.
In the blood-curdling final – which lasted 5 hours and 24 minutes and will thus make it into the Guinness Book of Records – Nadal fought back after losing two sets and won in five sets from the Russian Daniil Medvedev. The final score was 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, and 7-5.
The match is already writing tennis and world sport history. Of the 21 Grand Slams that Nadal has won, this one, after a difficult preparation, is perhaps the most important. The Spanish tennis player was infected with the coronavirus and struggled with a lingering foot injury. He himself did not expect to make it to the final in Melbourne.
Strong start, followed by sloppiness
The born Balearic started the match well, although he struggled to hold his service games. He couldn’t get into the game, played sloppy and made double faults. The second set seemed to go better. Nadal was on set point at his own service. Medvedev managed to parry this. A tense moment occurred when a Russian spectator came onto the court with a banner. The final was interrupted for a few moments, but that was all. Still, it seemed to do something to the tennis players; either Medvedev was distracted or Nadal showed his best tennis again for a moment, but the pressure in this ninth game of the second set was crucial. The game lasted more than 15 minutes (the longest so far). In the end Medvedev had the longest breath in the tie-break and decided the set in his favour.
Statistics unfavourable to Nadal
At that point, the statistics seemed to turn against Nadal: never before had he won a Grand Slam after losing in the first two sets. The beating in the second set took its toll on both players. Medvedev even went to the dressing room, giving both players a chance to catch their breath. After this short break, the Russian started calmly. The battle was evenly matched. Aware of his advantage, Medvedev even kept up with Nadal in the long rallies, one of the Spaniard’s traditional strengths. Just like his character. With the crowd at his side, Nadal won the third set. If Nadal has proved one thing in his legendary career, it is that, as his opponent, you should never sell the skin before the bear is shot.
Medvedev drops stitches in fourth set
The start of the fourth set was clear. Nadal broke Medvedev’s serve, who started making more errors from this point in the match. Nadal, on the other hand, was playing better and better, and even seemed fitter than the ten year younger Medvedev.
With the Australian crowd behind him, Nadal saw his chance to win this set with a love game.
Impossible comeback by Nadal
Medvedev could not believe it and saw Nadal, with an impossible comeback in the fourth set, still manage to win a fifth set. It seemed a surprise to Medvedev that a legendary Nadal, who played perhaps his best final in Australia of the six he has played there, not only forced him into despair but also took the lead by winning a break point. Nadal found himself ahead, 3-2, for the first time in the entire match. After more than five hours, Nadal was leading 5-4, but Medvedev broke Nadal’s serve and it became 5-5. The two players continued to fight for the win. When Nadal led 6-5 in the fifth set, he pulled out all the stops and finished the match. Medvedev was powerless against the best in history. Those who doubt this can look it up in the Guinness Book of Records.
Congratulations from the Spanish government
“You are the greatest, Rafa Nadal!” wrote Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in a tweet, adding a video of the tennis player’s victory and the hashtag #VamosRafa.