Rafael Nadal has won sets three and four in the Australian Open final against Daniil Medvedev to force a decider after four hours and 12 minutes! The Spaniard came from the verge of defeat to level the score at 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 and remain in contention for the 21st Major crown.
Medvedev served at 82% in the opening set and made the difference, dropping six points behind the initial shot and keeping the pressure on the other side. Rafa served at 54% and lost half of the points in his games, never finding the desired rhythm and suffering two breaks to propel the rival in front.
The Spaniard saved two break chances at 1-1, but he could not stay safe for too long. Medvedev broke at love at 2-2 to forge the advantage after half an hour and held at 30 in the next one to cement the lead. With nothing working his way, Rafa sprayed a volley error in the seventh game to experience a break at love and fall 5-2 behind.
Serving for the set, Daniil fired a service winner for 6-2 after 42 minutes.
Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev are going to the distance at the Australian Open.
The second set turned into an open war, lasting 84 minutes and seeing both players struggling to find their strokes.
Medvedev saved a set point and came from 5-3 down to take it in the tie break and gain a massive boost ahead of set number three. After two solid holds, Nadal grabbed his first break in the fourth game, winning an incredible 40-stroke rally with a slice winner and seizing the break chance after Medvedev's backhand mistake.
The Spaniard moved 4-1 ahead with a volley winner in game five before the Russian broke back at 15 in game seven after forcing Rafa's error. Nadal broke again in game eight with a drop shot winner and served for the set in one of the pivotal games of the entire clash.
Medvedev wasted four break chances in that ninth game, saved a set point and seized the fifth break point when Nadal sent a routine forehand out. The Spaniard opened a 5-4 lead in the tie break before the Russian grabbed three straight points and secured the set with a backhand down the line winner that sent him two sets to love in front.
Daniil needed six deuces and one break point saved to hold at the beginning of the third set, and Rafa came back from 40-0 down in the sixth to defend break chances and stay on the positive side. Returning at 4-4, Nadal painted a backhand down the line winner to grab a break and closed the set with a forehand down the line winner in the next one to reduce the deficit after three hours and ten minutes.
The fourth set turned into another marathon, and Rafa claimed it to force a decider. Nadal defended two break points in the second game, and they traded breaks in games three and four to remain neck and neck. The fifth game offers seven break chances to the Spaniard, and he seizes the last one to open a 3-2 gap and gain another boost of confidence.
Rafa erased two break points in game eight to remain ahead and wasted a set point on the return in the next one. Serving at 5-4, the Spaniard held at love with a service winner to force a decider after four hours and 12 minutes.