Not missing his shot
Rafael Nadal rallied back from near-defeat in Sunday's Australian Open men's finals to beat Daniil Medvedev, earning his place in the record books with a 21st Grand Slam singles title. Nadal, 35, called the grueling 5 hour, 24 minute match "without a doubt probably the biggest comeback of my tennis career." The Spanish tennis great now has one more Grand Slam title than his two longtime rivals, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, and he is only the fourth man to win all four Grand Slam titles at least twice.
Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic had all been chasing their 21st Grand Slam title. Federer, who had to sit out the Australian open due to a knee injury, was blocked by Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final, while Djokovic, famously deported from Australia right before this tournament due to visa issues and his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19, lost to Medvedev in last year's U.S. Open. Nadal himself almost did not make it to Australia after a chronic foot injury sidelined him in the second half of 2021.
Federer and Djokovic both congratulated Nadal on social media. "A few months ago we were joking about both being on crutches," Federer said. "I am proud to share this era with you and honored to play a role in pushing you to achieve more, as you have done for me for the past 18 years." Djokovic congratulated Nadal on his "amazing achievement" and "always impressive fighting spirit that prevailed another time." Some tennis fans still ribbed Djokovic for missing his shot.
The dramatic 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 match lasted until Monday morning in Australia. Afterward, Nadal called his win "the most unexpected, and most surprising, I think, for everyone," and indicated he has no plans to slow down: "After this month of practicing hard, playing very long matches, the foot was able to hold all this stress, of course I feel more confident that I going to have the chance to keep going, keep fighting, keep enjoying this beautiful sport" for "a while."