Melbourne, Australia, Jan 30 (EFE).- Rafael Nadal on Sunday claimed a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title after an epic five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final.
The Spaniard completed the unlikely comeback after nearly five hours and a half, fighting back from two sets down for a grueling 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 win.
The victory made Nadal the most successful male player in Grand Slams, breaking a tie with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Switzerland’s Roger Federer, who have 20 majors apiece.
Djokovic, 34, was unable to defend his title as he was deported from Australia for not being vaccinated while Federer, 40, is still recovering from injury.
“It was one of the most emotional matches of my career,” Nadal said afterwards. “To share the court with Daniil was just an honor.”
“It is amazing. To be honest, one and a half months ago I wasn’t sure if was able to be back on tour playing tennis again.
“But today I am here in front of all of you with this trophy in front of me. You are just amazing, thank you so much,” he added.
The 35-year-old got his quest for his 90th career title off to a slow start, conceding five consecutive games to lose the first set.
Nadal gained a 4-1 second-set lead and then a 5-3 advantage, but he failed to seal the set as he dropped his serve after a nearly 10-minute-long ninth game.
Again, the Spaniard had his chance in the tiebreak, but the Russian remained efficient to move one a set away from his second Grand Slam title, following his 2021 US Open.
Aware of the small margin of error he had available, Nadal put pressure on the Russian from the early going of the third set, but Medvedev’s serve proved strong enough.
Not for long, though, as the Spaniard managed to break in the ninth game, and this time he made sure to seal the set when serving in the following game.
This time, it was Nadal who was under pressure on the first service in the fourth set, but he managed to stand his ground.
After exchanging blows in the following few games, Nadal emerged with a 4-2 lead, which proved to be decisive as he tied the contest at two sets each.
The Spaniard broke Medvedev’s serve in the fifth game of the decider, but the Russian was not ready to give up just yet, breaking back as Nadal was serving for the match in the 10th game.
Nadal won the two subsequent games to seal the match on the first chance he had to win the title for the second time following his 2009 success. EFE