The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Rafael Nadal completes comeback, captures record-breaking 21st Grand Slam

February 1, 2022
rafael nadal drops racquet after australian open victory

Photo: Martin Sidorjak

New year, same Rafa.

On Sunday, in front of a Rod Laver Arena crowd, Rafael Nadal clinched his 21st Grand Slam title and became the Big Three’s new Slam leader. To make the victory even sweeter, he did it by coming back from two sets down against the favourite to win this year’s event, world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev. The Spaniard is now the second man in the Open Era to win all four majors twice.

The championship match was as exhilarating as it gets. After Nadal found himself down two sets to love and faced three break points at 2-3 in the third set, he orchestrated a remarkable comeback to defeat Medvedev 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. The five-hour and 24-minute final was an emotional rollercoaster – one that Nadal will never forget.

“If we put everything together, the scenario, the momentum, what (it) means… yeah, without a doubt probably have been the biggest comeback of my tennis career,” Nadal said in his post-match presser. “Tonight has been unforgettable. I feel very lucky. At the same time, I think I fought a lot and I worked a lot to try to come back to the tour and to give myself a chance to keep playing tennis.”

Nadal looked as dominant as ever during his fortnight in Melbourne. Despite having foot surgery a few months back and testing positive for COVID-19 at the end of December, Nadal persevered and continued to do what he does best: winning tennis matches.

On top of claiming his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam, Nadal became the third man in the Open Era to win the Australian Open after turning 35, after Roger Federer and Ken Rosewall. He also became the fourth man in the Open Era to win 90 Tour-level trophies.

As for Medvedev, it was his second final appearance at the Australian Open. By doing so, he became only the fifth active men’s player to accomplish the feat, joining Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Nadal, and Andy Murray. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be for Medvedev at this year’s Australian Open. The 2021 US Open champion will have his eyes set on winning his second major this summer as he hopes to become the sixth active player to win multiple Grand Slam titles.

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