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Nadal comes back from two sets down, stuns Medvedev to make history by winning Australian Open 2022

By Ricky Dimon

When you’re going for the kind of history that Rafael Nadal was seeking on Sunday night, it shouldn’t be easy.

For Nadal, it couldn’t have been more difficult.

The 35-year-old needed five hours and 24 minutes in an incredible Australian Open final against Daniil Medvedev to become the first man in history to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles and the second man in the Open Era to complete the double-career Grand Slam. Nadal came back from two sets down to stun the world No. 2 and reigning U.S. Open champion 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

“If we put everything together, the scenario, the momentum, what (it) means,” the Spaniard reflected afterward, “yeah, without a doubt probably it [has] been the biggest comeback of my tennis career.”

That “scenario” was even more dire than a simple two-set deficit would suggest. Nadal also trailed 2-3, 0-40 in the third, when Medvedev capitalizing on a triple-break point situation would have all but ended the match. In fact, “this is all but over” is exactly what ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe had to say at that point in the match.

Of course, the world No. 5 had other ideas. He dug out of the 0-40 hole, held for 3-3 to stay on serve in the third set, and the rest is history. Nadal ended up breaking at 4-4, served out the set one game later, and went on to break Medvedev in the third and fifth games of the fourth. The sixth seed ultimately gave back breaks in both the fourth and fifth sets, but as the enthralling encounter progressed into its sixth hour it was Nadal who held up better both physically and mentally. After Medvedev broke back for 5-5 in the fifth despite being two points from defeat, he turned in a loose service game with some wild forehand errors.

That allowed Nadal to serve for the championship again, and this time he made no mistake–clinching victory with a love hold.

With that Nadal achieved perhaps the most satisfying win of his career, and not just because of the history that was made. It also helped erase the demons of four Australian Open final losses–several in heartbreaking fashion–since his first triumph back in 2009 and it completed his latest improbable comeback from injury, this one a foot problem that had sidelined him for the last four months of 2021.

“I just wanted to keep believing ’til the end,” Nadal explained. “I just wanted to give [myself] a chance. That’s what I did. Just fight; just keep belief in trying to find a solution. Of course, I was lucky to save [0-40 in the third]. [There were] a lot of moments that can decide the final like this, no? He had a big advantage.

“But I don’t know. Tonight was for me (like) 2012, 2017, 2014 with the injury, too; I have been in that position a couple of times in my career here in Australia. Tonight has been unforgettable.”

It also won’t be an easy one to forget for Medvedev–and not in a good way.

“For sure (there were) some small points, small details that I could have done better if I wanted to win,” the 25-year-old Russian assessed. “But that’s tennis; that’s life. (It) was a huge match. Rafa played unreal; raised his level…. He was really strong; the way he played at four hours, I was even surprised. But, of course, we know how Rafa can play.

“Talking about tennis, I have not much regrets. I’m going to try to continue my best. Yeah, I’m going to work even harder to try to be a champion of some of these great tournaments one day.”

Medvedev is already a champion of one. Only a Nadal miracle prevented him from being a champion of two.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Editors Note • only thing unusual we noticed was Rafa’s  excessive sweating. He always perspires. But not quite like that match. He literally was sweating “bullets”. The size of a bottle cap. Other observation is players towels boxes should have more space between them at all events • And RAFA was spreading out his towel on top sort  of like he straightens his water bottles… 21 Majors. Hard to imagine. What a battle it was. My coach Tommy always said. “Win the first point and win the last point” that’s what Rafa did. 

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