Rafael Nadal, yesterday, at the Australian Open, came back from two sets down to win a titanic five-set duel against Daniil Medvedev to claim a record 21st Grand Slam men’s title.

Looking fatigued and out of it as the Russian world No 2 carved out an emphatic two-set lead, Nadal, after a toilet breaks, managed to come back to win 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in five hours 24 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

This is the second-longest match down under, falling 30 minutes short of the 2013 finals where Djokovic wọn in five sets.

Nadal has managed to come out on top in the physical war of attrition to move ahead of era rivals, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, on the all-time list of men’s major winners. Djokovic, a nine-time winner at Melbourne and pre-tournament favourite to win this title, sadly missed his chance to improve on his Australian Open record and overall title slam when he was deported over-vaccination issues on the eve of the tournament.

It was one of the 35-year-old Spanish warrior’s great title victories in his 29th Grand Slam final. It was also his second Australian Open, 13 years after his first in 2009.

“This has been one of the most emotional matches of my tennis career,” Nadal said. “It’s just amazing. I didn’t know a few months back if I would even be playing again on the tour and I am back on this court before you all today. You don’t know how much I fought to be here.

“The huge support I have received in the three weeks here is going to stay in my heart for the rest of my life.”

Nadal also became only the fourth man to win each of the four Grand Slams twice and the third-oldest man in the Open era (since 1970) to win a Grand Slam title, behind Ken Rosewall.

The final went down to a dramatic end with Nadal being broken as he served for the championship only for the Spaniard to break back immediately, an anti-climatic end for Medvedev who looked out of it towards the end.

On his second attempt to serve it out, Nadal powered to three match points to win amid chaotic scenes in his player’s box and the frenzied crowd.

It is the fourth time in his career that Nadal clawed back to win from two sets down, but the first time in a grand slam final. It is also the second time Nadal will deny Medvedev in a grand slam final, winning a five-set epic at the 2019 US Open. Nadal holds a 4-1 lead over Medvedev in their five matches to date.

Medvedev had wrecked Djokovic’s calendar grand slam push and bid for the 21st title in New York four months ago and was aiming to do the same to Nadal in Melbourne.

Medvedev lost his second consecutive Australian Open final after falling in straight sets to Djokovic in last year’s final. While this is just the first grand slam of the year, doubts hover around Djokovic’s return at other events to challenge for the biggest titles, as other slams may enforce vaccine mandates on players.

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