Rafael Nadal recovers from two sets down to win a match for first time since beating Mikhail Youzhny at Wimbledon in 2007 and he is the first to do so in an Australian Open final since Roy Emerson in 1965; he moves one ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the Grand Slam stakes
Rafael Nadal rewrote the history books on Sunday after defeating Daniil Medvedev in a marathon Australian Open final to become the first man to win 21 Grand Slam titles.
The Spaniard battled back to win from two sets down for the first time at a Grand Slam in 15 years to complete a remarkable chapter in his extraordinary career, moving him one clear of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the Slam stakes.
His incredible 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3 7-5 victory after five hours and 24 minutes finally finished at 1.11am local time and was his second triumph at Melbourne Park – his first since 2009 – making him only the second man after Djokovic to win every Grand Slam title at least twice since the sport turned professional in 1968.
The numbers only tell a fraction of the story after the 35-year-old feared he may have to retire only a couple of months ago because of a chronic foot problem and arrived in Australia unsure of what he could achieve.
After receiving the trophy, Nadal turned to his opponent, saying: “I know it’s a tough moment. Daniil, you are an amazing champion.
“I have been in this position a couple of times at this tournament. I have no doubt you will have this trophy a couple of times in your career. It has been one of the most emotional matches in my tennis career and to share the court with you is just an honour.
“I don’t know what to say. For me, it’s just amazing. Being honest, one month and a half ago I didn’t know if I would be able to be back on the tour and now I am here sharing the trophy with all of you. You don’t know how much I fought to be here. Thank you so much for all the support.
“Without a doubt, it’s one of the most emotional moments in my tennis career. The support I received through the three weeks is going to stay in my heart for the rest of my life.
“I really can’t explain the feelings that I have right now but I’m going to keep trying my best to come next year.”
Nadal, playing in his 29th Grand Slam final, was put under intense early pressure by the big-serving Medvedev, who was competing in his fourth major final.
On each of those four occasions, the Russian has faced either Djokovic or Nadal, who beat the 25-year-old in a thrilling US Open final in 2019.
A more mature Medvedev came out on top of a 26-shot rally, but Nadal showed phenomenal reflexes to stay ahead following an absorbing third game.
The Spaniard was unable to stop Medvedev on his next service game, however, as the Russian finally broke Nadal’s resistance.