Home Tennis Australian Open 2022: How Rafael Nadal rallied past Daniil Medvedev for record 21st Grand Slam title

Australian Open 2022: How Rafael Nadal rallied past Daniil Medvedev for record 21st Grand Slam title

by Saanvi
Australian Open 2022: How Rafael Nadal rallied past Daniil Medvedev for record 21st Grand Slam title

Rafael Nadal stands alone among tennis legends after fighting back to defeat Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final for his record 21st Grand Slam title. 

The sixth-seeded Nadal dropped the first two sets to second-seeded Medvedev before willing himself to a 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory in a match that played out over five hours and 24 minutes at Rod Laver Arena. 

Nadal’s remarkable run in Melbourne broke a tie with longtime rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, as all three had been sitting on 20 Grand Slam singles titles. 

Medvedev got off to a hot start on Sunday, taking out the opening set 6-2 as he broke Nadal’s serve twice, with the Russian looking in complete control as he has all tournament. 

The 25-year-old was seen complaining about the sweat from Nadal on the court multiple times, while other delays for towel usage and water saw the opening set take far longer than necessary.

Nadal was able to hit back almost immediately in the second set however, breaking Medvedev’s serve in a game that included an insane 40-shot rally between the pair.

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Nadal’s resurgence was stopped dead in its tracks later in the second set despite breaking Medvedev’s serve for a second time, as the world No.2 fought back and took it to a tiebreak.

Medvedev went down a couple of times in the tiebreak, but showed his class and got over the line with some great returns against Nadal’s serve, taking out a marathon 84-minute second set as he looked to be cruising to victory. 

Both players appeared to be struggling with the humidity in Melbourne, as they went to change clothes prior to the third set getting underway, before Medvedev was seen smashing down bottles of pickle juice at different stages. 

Medvedev’s serve remained rock-solid in the third set, but he did blow a golden opportunity with three break points mid-way through the set, allowing Nadal to stay alive for – and that moment ultimately proved extremely costly. 

He then began to engage with the crowd and made an uncharacteristic unforced error, leading to Nadal breaking his serve and taking out the third set 6-4. 

Two breaks for Nadal in the fourth set got the crowd on their feet, as Medvedev looked to be starting to tire out and get distracted from the task at hand, lashing out at the crowd and the umpire. 

Nadal would take out the fourth set and start to gain momentum, with both players under incredible fatigue and limited in their movement across the court. 

Medvedev started the fifth set reasonably well, getting out of his two service games rather quickly and without having to exert too much energy, but Nadal was more than up to the challenge and gained a huge break with a textbook forehand winner.

Nadal followed it up by saving four break points, continually fighting back and taking a 4-2 lead in the final set as the match surpassed the five-hour mark. 

The crowd were right behind Nadal deep into the fifth set, but just as it looked as though he was ready to clinch it on serve, Medvedev scored a huge break to keep the drama going. 

Another break in serve for Nadal gave the opportunity to ice the match and avoid a tiebreak, and that’s exactly what he was able to do, with Rod Laver Arena coming unglued as he nailed the final blow. 

The win is Nadal’s second Australian Open title and his first since 2009. It’s also the first Grand Slam for the Spanish legend since the 2020 French Open – made even sweeter by the fact the 35-year-old was returning from a career-threatening foot injury and testing positive for COVID in December. 

As for Medvedev, he will likely have many a sleepless night after being up two sets to none, throwing away his chance to become world No.1 on the ATP rankings with Djokovic’s absence  in the process. 

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