Rafael Nadal claimed the 21st Major crown at the Australian Open, overpowering Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 after five hours and 24 minutes! Nadal came from two sets to love down in one of the most grueling Major finals in the Open era to lift the record-breaking Major crown and move in front of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
Thus, Rafa became the second player with multiple titles at all four Majors in the Open era after Novak Djokovic and the third-oldest Australian Open winner after Roger Federer and Ken Rosewall. Both players earned 22 break chances, and Rafa delivered one return game more (seven to six) to make the crucial difference and celebrate one of the most significant victories in a career.
Medvedev served at 82% in the opening set and dropped six points behind the initial shot. Rafa served at 54% and lost half of the points in his games, never finding the rhythm and losing serve twice. The Spaniard saved two break chances at 1-1, but his game was not there, dealing with the first serve and playing passive shots.
Medvedev broke at love at 2-2 to forge the advantage and held at 30 to cement a 4-2 lead. In the seventh game, Rafa sprayed a volley error to experience another break and fall 5-2 behind. Serving for the set, Daniil fired a service winner for 6-2 after 42 minutes, hoping for more in the rest of the encounter.
The second set lasted 84 minutes and saw both players struggling to find their strokes. Medvedev came from 5-3 down, saved a set point and claimed the breaker to forge a massive advantage. Nadal broke in the fourth game and opened a 3-1 gap after an incredible 40-stroke rally and Medvedev's loose backhand.
From 4-1 down, Daniil broke back in game seven after forcing Rafa's error before losing serve at 3-4 after Nadal's drop shot winner. The Spaniard served for the set at 5-3, but it was not to be for him, wasting a set point and allowing the Russian to seize the fifth break chance and prolong the set.
Rafael Nadal secured the 21st Major crown at the Australian Open.
Rafa led 5-4 in the tie break before Daniil grabbed the last three points and secured the set with a backhand down the line winner that pushed him a set away from the Australian Open crown.
Medvedev brought the third set's opening game home and had a chance to break Nadal in game six. The Spaniard defended three break chances at 2-3 for a crucial hold and landed a backhand down the line winner in game nine to gain the advantage.
After three hours and ten minutes, Rafa claimed the set with a forehand winner at 5-4 to improve his chances. The fourth set produced another marathon, and they traded breaks in games three and four to stay neck and neck. The fifth game offered seven break chances to the Spaniard, and he captured the last one to open a 3-2 gap and gain another boost.
Rafa erased two break points in game eight to remain ahead and squandered 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, giving his everything to prevail.
Daniil saved a break point at the beginning of the fifth set before Rafa grabbed a break with a forehand down the line winner in the fifth game to open a 3-2 gap. The Spaniard saved three break points in game six, barely surviving that one and serving for the victory at 5-4.
In the tenth game, the more experienced player opened a 30-0 advantage, but Daniil claimed four straight points to grab a break after Nadal's backhand mistake and level the score at 5-5. Still fighting hard, Nadal converted the third break chance in game 11 following his rival's forehand mistake, serving for the victory for the second time. This time, Rafa held at love to seal the deal and wrap up the event with his second Australian Open crown.