Struggling with a foot injury, Rafael Nadal played just two matches in the second half of 2021, ending the season in August. The Spaniard did not know what to expect at the beginning of 2022, he lost both matches at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships a few weeks earlier and caught the coronavirus.
However, Rafa was ready to play competitive tennis in Melbourne and fight for every win. Feeling good on the practice court and not thinking about titles, Nadal found his A game to claim two titles and write history books at the Australian Open.
The Spaniard conquered the first Major of the season for the first time since 2009 and claimed his 21st Major title. Rafa moved well and did everything right to get past a formidable pair of opponents and clinch the crown.
Nadal will start his 18th Australian Open with no shape in his legs, like a year ago. Rafa has lost seven of his previous 11 matches since August, struggling with injury and hoping for a fresh start next week. Nadal is feeling good in Melbourne, training well and looking back on his brilliant run to the title 12 months ago.
The Spaniard dropped a set in the first four rounds in Melbourne last year before meeting Denis Shapovalov in the quarterfinals. Nadal prevailed in five grueling sets, losing four kilograms but recovering before the next duel.
Rafa defeated Matteo Berrettini in the semifinal and advanced to his sixth Australian Open final, hoping to avoid a fifth consecutive loss. Nadal came close to achieving it after losing 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, 40-0 to Daniil Medvedev. Rafa refused to give up and cruised to a 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory in five hours and 24 minutes, prevailing in the second longest Major final ever!
Nadal was on the verge of defeat when he faced those three break points in the sixth game of the third set. Still, he got through that game and got some serious momentum.
Rafael Nadal claimed his second Australian Open title last year.
Nadal claimed the third set after breaking the opponent with a backhand winner down the line in game nine and carved out an early lead in the fourth.
Rafa held to zero in game ten to close out the set and force a decider after four hours and 12 minutes. Pushing hard, the Spaniard laid a forehand down the line winner in game five to open a 3-2 gap. Nadal survived a massive scare after fending off three break points in game six.
He clinched game eight to carve out a 5-3 lead and move closer to the finish line. Medvedev made one last push and fell back in game ten to level the score at 5-5. Using his vast experience, Rafa converted the third break chance in the eleventh game and sealed the deal with his serve a few minutes later for the record 21st Major crown.
«I’ve practiced a lot and I’m in good shape. I have to prove it in official matches and I’m ready after a week of productive training. I’m happy to be back in Melbourne. I had an unforgettable career here last year,» Rafael Nadal said. .