Record breaker Nadal wins AO title

Eclipses three-way tie at the top to lead in Grand Slam titles

Record breaker Nadal wins AO title
Pic: Australian Open (twitter)

MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal entered history books by winning his 21st Grand Slam title to eclipse the three-way tie at the top of Grand Slam heap. The Spaniard staged a comeback win from two sets down to brush aside World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 to win the Australian Open on Sunday.

With Novak Djokovic forced to withdraw due to deportation and Roger Federer recovering from knee surgery, the Spanish great is now one major title ahead of his 'Big Three' rivals after winning the thriller at Rod Laver Arena.

Riding a wave of loud crowd support, a vintage Nadal delivered one of his finest performances to deny Medvedev once more, less than three years after leaving the Russian heartbroken in the 2019 U.S. Open final.

In a dramatic match, Nadal was two points from the title when he was broken when serving for the match at 5-4.

He held tight to break Medvedev again and serve out the match to love, darting in for a superb backhand volley.

Nadal shook his head and smirked as he dropped his racket, then kicked a tennis ball away and pumped his fists in delight.

The 35-year-old completed his first five-set win from a two-set deficit in 15 years – since defeating Mikhail Youzhny in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2007.

After losing four finals in 2012, 2014, 2017, and 2019, Nadal can now celebrate a second Melbourne Park title, 13 years after defeating Federer in the 2009 showdown.

The long hair and pirate shorts of that era have faded, but the class and fighting spirit continue in the face of Nadal's titanic battles to recover from injuries.

After missing Wimbledon owing to fatigue and the US Open due to a chronic condition in his left foot, Nadal was on the verge of retiring in late-2021 and considered himself fortunate merely to be there at Melbourne Park this year.

The Spaniard's ability to play seven matches was miraculous to him, as he joins Djokovic, Rod Laver, and Roy Emerson as the only men to win each Grand Slam championship twice.

Now, more than ever, world No. 1 Djokovic may bemoan his inability to defend his championship in Melbourne without COVID-19 vaccination.

His deportation threw the tournament into disarray, leaving a void for Nadal to fill and potentially deliver a crucial blow in the Grand Slam battle.

Edited - SportsAction / Inputs - Agency