He had to fight until after midnight. But after a five-hour thriller, Rafael Nadal secured a triumph with historical buzz.
RAFAEL NADAL-DANIIL MEDVEDEV 3–2 (2–6, 6–7, 6–4, 6–5, 7–5)
It should be hopeless.
But on Saturday, Rafael Nadal managed it.
He became the first ever male player to reach 21 Grand Slam titles in tennis. It happened after a five-hour battle with Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final.
It’s the final twist in a fascinating trilogy about status as the best male tennis player of all time.
For Roger Federer, Nadal’s arch-rival for many years, stands at 20 titles. Novak Djokovic, who was denied participation in the Australian Open, also stands at 20.
When it was all over, Nadal just stood and laughed – apparently in shock over the incredible fight. For Medvedev led 2-0, before Nadal won the next three.
– It should almost not work, said Eurosport commentator Christer Francke.
See photos from all of Nadal’s titles at the bottom of the article.
That Nadal plays fantastic tennis really surprises few.
But still, this triumph is surprising.
The road to title 21 has long looked long.
– I do not think he dared to dream so big once, said Norwegian champion Dorthea Faa-Hviding in Eurosport’s studio.
Because while the superb Novak Djokovic was close in 2021, Nadal struggled to get on the field.
The injury to the left foot threatened to end his career.
Nadal worked and worked to get back. There were days of boring and hard training work without noticeable change. He struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then came the moments of doubt. Should he post?
– I got a lot of support from the team and my family, Nadal said at a press conference recently.
For one quality, many have noticed at Nadal. He never gives up. Whether he is fighting injuries or seemingly invincible opponents.
And Saturday’s final was another example.
Daniil Medvedev, ranked as the world’s second best player, seemed superior at first. The Russian was patient and ruthless, strong and agile.
He led 2-0 in sets and stormed towards his second Grand Slam title.
For Nadal, who according to Eurosport commentator Christer Francke “looked heavy” for a long time, recovered.
Gradually, more and more points went to Nadal – especially the decisive battles in the densest, longest games.
And the spectators – who had come to see history being written – loved it. When Nadal smashed in winning shots, the crowd cheered. When Medvedev succeeded, it was considerably quieter.
“They are idiots. No brains. Empty brains. Their lives must be very bad, right? ”Medvedev told the judge before the fourth set.
The fight could be reversed
Cheered on by the spectators, Nadal won both the third and fourth sets.
But could the 35-year-old also hold on to the fifth set?
Of course he could.
The sweaty Spaniard groaned, grunted and grimaced, but fought to the required points.
The match could be reversed when Medvedev broke Nadal’s serve game to 5–5. But raw Nadal broke back.
Then he served home the historic title.
About one o’clock at night local time it was over.
Rafael Nadal had done it. Back in top form, he won his 21st Grand Slam title.
And the next opportunity is Roland Garros, Nadal’s favorite tournament.
Here are Nadal’s triumphs: