Rafa Nadal was almost in a state of disbelief. History had been written but after what he has been through in recent months it was a huge surprise and that was most definitely the case with Nadal. He has been troubled by a chronic foot injury that was operated on in September and in December he had a bout of covid so practice and preparation the way Rafa does it was not there.
After five hours 24 minutes of the most magical tennis between Nadal and Daniil Medvedev, the Spaniard won his second Australian Open and his historic 21st major. For only the fourth time in his career and the first time since Wimbledon 2007, Nadal came back from two sets to love down to win 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
The sixth game of the third set was the turning point of this incredible final.
Medvedev was playing beautiful tennis. He was almost cruising being up two sets to love and then had Nadal at 0.40, three break points in that sixth game, but when he failed to convert any of those points, Nadal began to pry open the door and work his way into the match. Medvedev said he should have made the necessary adjustments to stay in control but added that Nadal was playing incredible tennis.
The level of tennis from both was sublime at times.
"If we put everything together, the scenario, the momentum, what it means, yeah, without a doubt probably have been the biggest comeback of my tennis career," Nadal said." In that moment, of course, situation have been critical. But sport is unpredictable, no? If you fight till the end, normal thing is lose the match in straight sets after that situation. In the other hand I had a big chance in the second, too, no?
"I don't know. I was repeating to myself during the whole match, I lost a lot of times here having chances, sometimes I was a little bit unlucky. I just wanted to keep believing till the end, no? I just wanted to give me a chance. That's what I did. Just fight, just keep belief on trying to find a solution. Of course, I was lucky to save that moment. Yeah, have been a lot of moments that can decide the final like this, no? He has a big advantage.
"But I don't know. Tonight was for me 2012, 2017, 2014 with the injury, too, I have been in that position couple of times in my career here in Australia. Tonight have been unforgettable. I feel very lucky. At the same time I think I fighted a lot and I worked a lot to try to come back to the tour and to give myself a chance to keep playing tennis."
For Medvedev there was the heartbreak of not winning his second major, but he made it clear that he was not disappointed by the tennis. He said he is not long the little boy who dreamed of being in such final. He has arrived and he is now going to do more to win the titles he wants so much.
"Like, it was a huge match, for sure some small points, small details that I could have done better if I wanted to win. But that's tennis. That's life," Medvedev said. "Was a huge match. Rafa played unreal. Raised his level. I mean, two sets to love up, I was like, C'mon, just go for him, go for more.
"In fifth set, I was like make him run. He was unreal. He was really strong, like the way he played, at four hours I was even surprised. But, of course, we know how Rafa can play. He didn't play for six months. He told me after the match that he didn't practice so much. It was unreal.
"Talking about tennis, I have not much regrets. I'm going to try to continue my best. Yeah, I'm going to work even harder to try to be, yeah, a champion of some of these great tournaments one day. But again, I'm not really disappointed with the loss and with my tennis or with anything like this."
The numbers say Nadal is th3e best male major player of all time. Rafa shies away from such accolades.
"Is a big significance this title, no? But from my point of view I really believe what I said the other day, I hope, no, I believe today is an unforgettable day," Nadal said. "I never will say I deserve, because I think a lot of people fight and a lot of people deserve. But I really believe that I hold a very positive spirit. For the last six months, I really fighted a lot to try to be back on court.
"Have been very, very tough moments, moments to really... Conversations, tough ones, because you don't know if I going to have the chance to be back on the tour. But, yeah, I feel honoured. I feel lucky to achieve one more very special thing in my tennis career. I don't care much if I am the one or not the one or the best of the history, not the best of the history. Honestly today I don't care much, no?
"For me it's about enjoying nights like today. That means everything for me, no? Means even more to achieve the second Australian Open more than any other thing."
The doubles final was an all-Aussie affair for the first time since 1980. The title was won by Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, they defeated Matt Ebden and Max Purcell 7-5, 6-4.