Prior to the start of the 2022 Australian Open, the general consensus was that a player on the men’s side would be in line to win his record-setting 21st Slam title. While the consensus was it would be nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, but instead on Sunday, it was Spain’s Rafael Nadal who produced history.
Nadal came back from two-sets-to-love down, outlasted Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in an epic major final in Melbourne.
“It was one of the most emotional matches of my career,“ said Nadal. “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 I was able to be back on the Tour playing tennis again. But today I am here in front of all of you with this trophy in front of me.”
In a rematch of the 2019 U.S. Open finals, Medvedev and Nadal once again battled for five sets, this time with the Aussie Open title on the line. And it looked as if Medvedev was on his way to denying Nadal’s historic moment and lift the second major trophy of his career. He led by two sets, and had break points at 3-2, 40/0 in the third set. But that infamous Nadal fighting spirit came through as he began to launch his comeback.
Later in the set, Nadal would set up break points and a flurry of forehand winners helped him secure that break and take the third set.
It was the start of the fourth two-sets-to-love down comeback of Nadal’s career, and his first in 15 years. He saved break points early in the fourth set, and continued to take the fight to Medvedev, securing back-to-back breaks of serve late in the set to take the fourth and force the decider.
Nadal had a chance to serve for the title at 5-4, but had his serve broken. But Medvedev’s comeback was halted shortly thereafter, as Nadal broke back immediately, and then served out the championship.
“Having the huge support I received over the past three weeks is going to stay in my heart for the rest of my life, so thank you very much,” Nadal told the Australian crowd.
Medvedev offered his praise of Nadal afterwards:
“Tough to talk after playing for five hours and 30 minutes and losing, but I want to congratulate Rafa because what he did today, I was amazed,” he said. “After the match, I asked him, ‘Are you tired?’ because it was insane. You raised your level after the first two sets for your 21st Grand Slam title. You are an amazing champion, it was unbelievable.”
Nadal now sits atop the rest of the field on the all-time major titles list with 21, one above his peers Roger Federer and Djokovic. It is Nadal’s second Australian Open title in his career, with the previous one coming back in 2009.
In the Men’s Doubles final, Australia’s own Nick Kyrgios & Thanasi Kokkinakis beat their compatriots Matthew Ebden & Max Purcell 7-5, 6-4 to claim the title. The Czech Republic duo of Katerina Siniakova & Barbora Krejcikova came back from a set down to defeat Anna Danilina & Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4.
The Mixed Doubles title went to the fifth-seeded pairing of Kristina Mladenovic & Ivan Dodig, who upended Australian wild cards Jason Kubler & Jaimee Fourlis 6-3, 6-4.