Rafael Nadal fell completely exhausted on his knees after his epic battle and willpower. He then covered his face in disbelief on the historic evening in Melbourne. In a captivating final, the 35-year-old Spaniard won the almost impossible next title in one of the four most important tournaments: With 21 victories in Grand Slam events, he is now the only record holder.
“If we put it all together, the scenario, the momentum, what does it mean. Without a doubt, it was probably the biggest comeback in my tennis career,” said Nadal, who was pushed to his limits by the memorable match over 5:24 hours: “I is super, super tired. I can not even party. “
Against Russian US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, he turned a set deficit of 0-2 into a 2-6, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory. “Now I’m devastated, honestly, physically. I can not think much. I can not remember many moments in the match,” said the Mallorcan. Australian tennis icon Rod Laver later personally congratulated the champion in the gym. Nadal fell on a mat, before cycling out.
The overtaken rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were also among the benevolent via social networks. And in his native Spain, the superlatives did not end there: “The best ever”, wrote the sports newspaper “Marca”. For “As”, Nadal is even the “new god of tennis”.
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13 years earlier he had won his so far only trophy at the Australian Open. Now finally the other. Fists in the air, a kiss with narrowed eyes – that’s how Nadal celebrated the triumph. It was definitely his most unexpected success, he said just before 3pm on the Australian night with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup next to him. “I just wanted to believe in it to the last. I just wanted to give myself this chance,” stressed Nadal, whose performance also impressed his Swiss rival Federer.
“What a match!” The 40-year-old wrote on Instagram Story: A few months ago, we were still joking about how we both walked on crutches. Fantastic. Never underestimate a great champion. “On his part, Djokovic commented via Twitter:” Fantastic performance. “Federer and Djokovic have each won 20 Grand Slam tournaments.
Nadal made an adventure comeback after a long hiatus due to his foot injury and fought the second-longest final in tournament history with Medvedev. “I can not really explain how I feel right now, but I will do my best to come back next year,” he announced. He pushed aside the importance of the 21st triumph. He does not care if he is the best in history or not: “For me, it’s about enjoying evenings like tonight.”
At the award ceremony, Nadal was visibly moved. “It’s one of my most emotional matches of my tennis career – and sharing this moment with you is an honor for me,” Nadal told the defeated Medvedev. “It will never be forgotten and will remain in my heart for the rest of my life,” assured the great warrior, also recalling the last phase of insecurity which was very difficult for him: “To be honest, a month and a half ago “I did not know if I was up, the trip can come back,” said Nadal, “and now I am here, and I have this trophy.”
It was impressive how Nadal fought Medvedev, who was ten years younger, and how he won the fifth set. The result did not reflect the drama of the match: In the decision-making process, Nadal already led with a break. When he earned 5: 4 in tennis history and only needed two points, he lost his service game. But he immediately took the lead again – and had done so a little later. “I thought he would get tired,” Medvedev said.
Between mid-June and early January, Nadal only played two games due to his complicated foot problems. He discussed with his family whether it was time to say goodbye to tennis if the problems did not get better.
Now the clay court dominator is only the fourth player – along with Djokovic, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson – to have won every Grand Slam event at least twice.
In the final match of the tournament, it did not matter that Nadal made too many unforced errors in the first two sets. Medvedev was initially the better player for a long time. It seemed like he could spoil the show for one of the stars of the tennis scene again.
Nadal is now the fourth professional to have won all four Grand Slams twice
Just over four months ago, at the US Open in New York, Medvedev prevented Djokovic from winning his 21st title and historic Grand Slam with all four major titles in one year. Cool and defensively strong, the Russian defied the atmosphere in Rod Laver Arena for a long time, because the sympathies were clearly from Nadal’s side.
In the second set, a person protesting Australia’s refugee policy briefly interrupted the game, but was quickly stopped by security guards. From the end of the third set, Nadal appeared and generated more power. Medvedev, on the other hand, deviated a bit from his line and also lost his rip-off.
Meanwhile, the Russian discussed with referee John Blom about spectators who were disturbed by shouts and had his thighs massaged and treated. The US Open final in 2019 had already developed into an exciting duel over five sets between the two, by which time Nadal had led by two sets and eventually only won in the deciding set. (dpa)