Rafael Nadal (14/1 Wimbledon Outright) has now won more Grand Slam titles than any other man in tennis history after coming from two sets down to defeat Daniil Medvedev 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 in the Australian Open final.
With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer not participating in the first major event of the year, Nadal was presented with a great opportunity to put his name in the record books once more and he certainly did it the hard way in the Melbourne final.
He was up against Russian Medvedev (8/1 Wimbledon Outright), the highest-ranked player in Djokovic’s absence, and it looked as through it was going to be a step too far for the Spaniard.
Nadal was well-beaten in the opening set and squandered a lead in the second set to lose in a tie-break.
However, he then displayed the stamina and tenacity which has launched him to legendary status within the sport by taking the next two sets 6-4.
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Medvedev’s confidence was visibly waning and Nadal sealed his 21st Slam title after five hours and 24 minutes in what was a marathon contest.
It represents an incredible comeback for the 35-year-old, who spent the back end of last year on the sidelines with a foot problem, which became so severe that there were doubts about his future in the game.
A bout of Covid also hampered his preparations but he ultimately roared through to jump ahead of Federer and Djokovic in the all-time rankings.
Afterwards, he was emotional in his interview and thanked all those who supported him throughout his injury troubles.
“I did not know if I would be back on the tour playing tennis again,” he said. “You don’t know how much it means to be back here. You are amazing and thank you so much for all of your support.
“Without a doubt it is one of the most emotional [periods] of my career. To have the support I have received the last three weeks will stay in my heart. So many, many thanks.
“I honestly can’t thank enough all the guys that are there – all the team, all the family, those that aren’t here. How hard the last year and a half has been. In the low moments you have been there every single moment in support.”
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