Australian Open: Rafael Nadal wins, breaking male record for most Grand Slam singles titles with 21

MELBOURNE, Australia – Rafael Nadal finished 21st, broke the men’s record for most Grand Slam singles titles and did it the hard way by coming back from two sets to beat Daniil Medvedev in a close 5 1/2 hours last Australian Open.

Nadal broke serve for the first time 5-4 in the fifth set, but he made no mistake in the next two games when he served an ace for three championship points and swapped it the next time. try first.

The 35-year-old Spaniard now has one more major title than Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, his longtime rivals in the so-called Big Three.

With victories of 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, Nadal also became the fourth person in history to win all four of the sport’s major titles at least. at least twice.

Nadal and Medvedev packed a lot of drama into the final that began Sunday night, was delayed for a while in the 84-minute set when a protester jumped onto the court, and then ended early on Thursday morning. Two.

“Good evening. No, good morning!” Nadal, looking at his watch, addressed the crowd at Rod Laver Arena as he finally stood up to give his acceptance speech at 1:30 a.m.

In the background, Rod Laver, the senior Australian tennis player, is in the stands holding up his smartphone to record the scene. A woman nearby held up a sign that read: “Rafa is GOAT.”

Currently, at least in terms of men’s major titles, Nadal is the greatest tennis player of all time.

Nadal said it was “one of the most emotional matches of my tennis career,” and he praised Medvedev for his part in the final, which lasted 5 hours and 24 minutes. It was the second-longest Australian Open final ever, following a 5:53 loss to Nadal’s Djokovic in the decisive 2012 match.

His victory is even more remarkable as Nadal flies to Australia for just two matches under his rule in the second half of 2021 as he is sidelined with a chronic foot injury that can be treated. but cannot be cured. He also weathered a wave of COVID-19.

“For me, it was amazing. Honestly, a month and a half ago, I didn’t know if I would be able to compete on the tour again,” said Nadal. “Without a doubt, (it was) probably one of the most emotional months of my tennis career.

“The tremendous support I’ve received over the past three weeks will stay in my heart for the rest of my life.”

Nadal won his first Australian Open title in 2009 and lost four other finals at Melbourne Park to a dramatic victory over US Open champion Medvedev. His conversion rate in major finals is now 21 to 29. Federer and Djokovic each have 20 majors from 31 finals.

Medvedev, who is aiming to become the first man in the Open Era to win a second Grand Slam title at the next major, was very close to spoiling another 21st celebration.

Djokovic is chasing the same record at last year’s US Open, and a Grand Slam in the calendar year, when Medvedev beat him in consecutive sets in the final.

Federer also had a chance at 21, but Djokovic stopped that when he saved match points before reaching the 2019 Wimbledon final.

Medvedev now joins Andy Murray among those who have lost the final at the next major after their career breakthrough at the highest level.

It was only the fourth time Nadal has risen two sets or less to win the best match of five sets, and the first since his 2007 fourth-round victory at Wimbledon over Mikhail Youzhny.

He is the first Australian Open champion to return to victory after beating the first two sets of the final since Roy Emerson in 1965.

Medvedev continued his love-hate relationship with the Australian crowd, following trouble in previous wins over Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas. He kept his cool for the first two sets before complaining about screaming and noise between the first and second serves.

After Nadal broke serve in the third game of the fourth set, due to a double error, Medvedev went to the locker room and gave the crowd a sarcastic thumbs up.

There was a break exchange but Nadal had the upper hand after a long game as he switched his seventh break point with a corner backhand winner.

Medvedev called on referee John Blom to close the crowd.

“Step up Man, this is the final of a Grand Slam. Please is not enough,” he said. “They are idiots. With idiots, please do not work.”

After Medvedev made a double foul to open the fifth set, Blom warned the crowd that anyone shouting between the first and second serves could be kicked off the court by security.

Medvedev managed to hold and the fifth serve was made until Nadal broke the serve in the fifth game and then, crucially, took a 4-2 lead after a 13-minute game that had lost six times. .

That wouldn’t be the end of the movie, however, with Nadal breaking serve in the 10th game as he served for the match, but was quick to respond with another break serving to establish his second chance. two.

Nadal is the only one of the Big Three to have a chance to win a solo record in Australia.

Federer is still recovering from knee surgery and Djokovic was deported from Australia on the eve of the tournament after a dramatic 11-day story about his visa status because he did not meet the rules. the country’s strict COVID-19 vaccination rules.

Medvedev regained his composure for his post-match speech, praising Nadal for his incredible endurance.

“It’s hard to talk about (5 and a half hours) and lose. I want to congratulate Rafa,” said the 25-year-old Russian tennis player. “What he did today was amazing.

“You are a great champion.”

Copyright © 2022 of the Associated Press. Copyright Registered. Australian Open: Rafael Nadal wins, breaking male record for most Grand Slam singles titles with 21

Dais Johnston

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