Rafael Nadal has become the first man to win 21 Grand Slam titles after defeating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 7-5 in five hours and 24 minutes at the Australian Open.
Medvedev started the stronger as an ace out wide gave him a dominant hold and he had a pair of break points on the Nadal serve, but the Spaniard's underrated net game got the job done.
"One month and a half ago, I didn't know if I was going to be able to be back on the tour playing tennis again," Nadal said in his post-match speech. "And today, I am here in front of all of you having this trophy with me and you really don't know how much I fought to be here. I can't thank you enough for all the support that I received since I arrived here."
Nadal was sidelined with a recurring foot injury since last May, even having to undergo an operation that left him on crutches just four months ago. Then, in December 2021, Nadal suffered from a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Following Nadal's first-round victory at the 2022 Australian Open, he told Eurosport Spain: "A month and a half ago I didn't know if I would play tennis again at a professional level due to various factors, including the problems I've had with my foot and with COVID."
It is just the fourth time Nadal has come back from two-sets-to-love down in his career. The last time he accomplished this was nearly 15 years ago when he battled past Mikhail Youzhny in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2007. The last Australian Open champion to come back from two sets down to win was in 1965 when Roy Emerson defeated Fred Stolle.
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, with Nadal finally adding a second Australia Open crown to the one he claimed in 2009.