Rafael Nadal: conquista el Abierto de Australia y su 21º título de Grand Slam / wins record 21st Grand Slam title after Australian Open final comeback against Daniil Medvedev

El tenista español vino desde atrás para superar en una frenética final al ruso Daniil Medvedev

Melbourne.- Rafael Nadal conquistó este domingo un histórico 21º título de Grand Slam al derrotar al ruso Daniil Medvedev en la final del Abierto de Australia 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 en 5 horas y 24 minutos, informó AFP.

El español se convierte a sus 35 años en el único poseedor del récord de títulos en Grand Slam, que compartía hasta ahora con Roger Federer y Novak Djokovic.

Nadal pasa a ser asimismo el segundo jugador en la era Open, el 4º en la historia, en haber conquistado al menos dos veces cada uno de los cuatro ‘Grandes’. Un éxito firmado por Djokovic el año pasado cuando conquistó el Roland Garros por segunda vez.

Sólo tres mujeres pueden presumir de más títulos de Grand Slam: Margaret Court (24), Serena Williams (23), Steffi Graf (22).

En términos de partidos ganados, el Abierto de Australia es el segundo mejor ‘Grande’ para Nadal (detrás de Roland Garros), pero el que menor número de títulos le había proporcionado.

Ha ganado dos (2009 y 2022) en seis finales, mientras que Djokovic ganó las 9 finales que jugó en Melbourne.

Ambos tenistas jugaron en 2012 la final más larga de torneos de Grand Slam, cuando el serbio se impuso en 5 horas y 53 minutos.

Esta final en Melbourne entre Medvedev y Nadal suponía una revancha de la ganada por el tenista balear al ruso en el US Open en 2019. Con más experiencia en finales, Medvedev se llevó los dos primeros sets, pero Nadal tiró de coraje para apuntarse los tres siguientes y pasar a la posteridad. AFP

Rafael Nadal wins record 21st Grand Slam title after Australian Open final comeback against Daniil Medvedev

Rafael Nadal produced a remarkable comeback in a gruelling five-set Australian Open men’s singles final against Daniil Medvedev to claim his record 21st Grand Slam title in sensational fashion.

Nadal had the opportunity to overtake ‘Big Three’ rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on the list of major winners with only a second Melbourne triumph and first since 2009 in Sunday’s showpiece, but he looked to have blown that chance after falling two sets down to the 2021 US Open champion.

However, the Spaniard simply would not be denied as he defied his advancing years to come roaring back for an unlikely 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 victory in a marathon final that will live long in the memory after going past 1am local time in five-and-a-half unforgettable hours on Rod Laver Arena.

The achievement and manner in which it was secured is astonishing by Nadal, who admitted recently that he was left considering his tennis future last year after a six-month injury lay-off was followed by a positive test for Covid-19.

Medvedev had three break points at 2-2 in the first set, with an errant backhand from Nadal putting him on the back foot as he trailed 2-3.

The confident Medvedev then broke again for 5-2 and eased into a one-set lead.

Nadal bounced back by racing ahead 4-1 in set two but Medvedev broke back before being broken himself again and having to save set point after failing to take four break points while trailing 3-5.

Play was briefly suspended due to an intruder jumping from their seat onto court, with the situation quickly dealt with and the protester – who carried a banner reading “Abolish refugee detention”- apprehended by security and the police.

Medvedev claimed his fifth break opportunity and took Nadal to deuce on the Spaniard’s serve before a thrilling, topsy-turvy second set went all the way to a tiebreak, which the Russian won 7-5 with a glorious whipped winner down the line.

Nadal had a mountain to climb and failed to punish Medvedev in the opening game of set three, with the latter holding after saving break point.

Nadal later saved four break points to hold and take it to 3-3, later breaking again and serving out the set to increase hopes of an unlikely comeback.

By George Flood