Rafael Nadal has won the Australian Open after more than five hours of play, breaking a three-way tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam titles in men’s singles tennis history.
On Sunday, Nadal won his 21st Grand Slam title, defeating world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the final, 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Coming from two sets behind, Nadal’s victory marked his first Australian open win since 2009.
“It has been one of the most emotional nights in my tennis career and to share the night with you it has been an honor,” Nadal said to Medvedev after the match.
His victory was an incredible comeback from injury.
Nadal has now won all four majors twice, but his victory in Melbourne was never guaranteed. He has previously dealt with a variety of medical issues, including knee concerns and struggles with Müller-Weiss disease, which causes chronic pain in the middle of the foot. He announced in June that he was withdrawing from Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics after “listening” to his body, and in October he said he wasn’t sure when he would play professionally again. The Spaniard had foot surgery earlier this year and tested positive for COVID-19 in late December.
“Being honest, one month and a half ago I didn’t know if I would be able to be back on the tour playing tennis again, and today I’m here in front of all of you having this trophy and you really don’t know how much I’ve fought to be here,” Nadal said. “I can’t thank you enough.”
A tournament that got off to a rocky start
His victory brought an end to a tournament that had begun with controversy over Novak Djokovic’s vaccination status. Djokovic appeared to be ready to defend his title in Melbourne, despite months of speculation about whether the noted vaccine skeptic would even be able to participate due to Australia’s strict vaccination requirements for visitors. Finally, immigration officials cancelled his visa, and he was deported back to Serbia after a stint in immigration detention.
When asked about Djokovic’s situation, Nadal stated that the competition rules were made clear months before his arrival in the country.
“The only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine say, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine. That’s my point of view,” Nadal said earlier this month.
In the women’s tournament, Australia’s own Ashleigh Barty defeated Danielle Collins on Saturday to take home the title. Until Saturday, Australia had gone 43 years without a singles win at their own open.