By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 30 January 2022 • 16:20
The Spaniard Rafael Nadal has become the most successful man in tennis history by winning the Australian Open and his 21st Grand Slam title, beating Daniil Medvedev in a gruelling five-hour and 24-minute marathon.
Nadal won the second-longest match in the tournament’s history, to clinch the trophy, dropping to his knees in disbelief before pumping the air in delight.
Along with all the other history making moments, the victory also makes him only the second man in the Open era after Djokovic to win each of the four titles at least twice. This win finally adds the second Australia Open crown to the one he claimed in 2009.
Speaking after his win, Nadal congratulated Medvedev: “This has been one of the most emotional tennis matches of my career and to have shared the court with you is just an honour. All the best in the future.”
He continued: “If I’m honest, a month-and-a-half ago I didn’t know if I would be able to be back on the Tour and playing tennis again, and today I am here in front of all of you with the trophy next to me.
“You really don’t know how much I fought to be here. I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the support I received since I arrived here in Australia, it’s been amazing. Thank you so much for all of the support.
“The support that I have received is going to stay in my heart for the rest of my life.”
Nadal said he had feared this could have been his last Australian Open given his ongoing injury problems but said: “Now, there’s plenty of energy to keep going so thank you very much… I’m going to keep on trying my best to keep on coming and be here next year.”
It is a remarkable achievement, given Nadal feared a couple of months ago he may have to retire due to a chronic foot problem.
Nadal looked as if he would fall short having fallen behind by two sets to Medvedev, before fighting back to take the match. Most of the build-up focused on the historic significance of the Spaniard bidding for his 21st Grand Slam but he found himself under pressure from the start.
Sadly the match was temporarily halted when an intruder made their way onto the court, waving a banner highlighting refugee detention.
Medvedev, who has become the sport’s favourite villain, was closest to the protestor before security guards caught and removed him from the court.
He became increasingly wound up by the crowd, with appeals to the umpire to control the “idiots”, but kept a handle on his emotions a better than he had during his semi-final victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, when he screamed at umpire Jaume Campistol.
His mood was not improved when he double-faulted to drop serve in the third game of the fourth set and, although he got back on terms immediately, Nadal took his seventh break point in the next game.
Rod Laver, winner of 11 Grand Slam singles titles called it a “final of Herculean proportions” writing on Twitter: “Two AO crowns and 21 majors, given everything you have endured this historic victory is so special Rafa. It has been a privilege to watch you doing what you love. Congratulations.”
Spain will be celebrating their compatriot becoming most successful man in tennis, as will the tennis world with Nadal a firm favourite across the world.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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