Rafael Nadal receives honors from Rod Laver - From one legend to another
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 8553
Rafael Nadal wrote the new pages of history books on Sunday, securing the record-breaking 21st Major title. Nadal endured all the obstacles to lift the first trophy at Melbourne Park since 2009 and leave Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic behind.
At 35 years, seven months and 28 days, Nadal is the third-oldest Major champion after Roger Federer and Ken Rosewall, standing competitive almost 17 years after the first Major crown at Roland Garros 2005! The Aussie legend Rod Laver flew to his home Major for another year and witnessed Nadal's history run.
After the final, Laver came to the gym to congratulate Rafa, who stopped his recovery to hug the veteran and exchange friendly words with him. Rod congratulated Rafa on the 21st Major final and praised Daniil Medvedev, who gave his best in the title clash.
After not competing his August due to a foot injury, Nadal bounced back to win all ten matches in Melbourne and fly home with two ATP titles. Hoping for the best at the Australian Open, Rafa survived stern tests from Karen Khachanov and Denis Shapovalov to find himself in the sixth Australian Open final.
The 35-year-old Spaniard stopped the clock to beat Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in five hours and 24 minutes, coming back from two sets to love down for the first time in almost 15 years! Thus, Nadal became the first player who turned the scoreboard around in the Australian Open final in the Open era and lifted the trophy from two sets to love down.
Rafa wasted his opportunities in the second set to find himself on the verge of defeat, the fifth in the Melbourne finals! The Spaniard survived three break points in the third set's sixth game to gain a massive boost, playing better in the rest of the encounter.
Rafa claimed 12 of the last 15 points to take the set 6-4 and improve his chances.
Rod Laver praised Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard's 21st Major title.
Nadal broke twice in a row in the fourth set to control the scoreboard, saved two break points in the eighth game and clinched the set with a hold at love in game ten to force a decider after four hours and 12 minutes.
The more experienced player landed a forehand down the line winner at 2-2 to deliver a break and served for the title at 5-4. Medvedev refused to surrender and pulled the break back to stay in contention before getting broken again in game 11.
Rafa made no mistakes this time around, producing a hold at love at 6-5 to seal the deal and become a proud owner of the 21st Major trophy. "A final of Herculean proportions, thank you for a brilliant contest, Rafa and Daniil.
Two Australian Open crowns and 21 Majors, given everything you have endured, this historic victory is so special, Rafa. It has been a privilege to watch you doing what you love. Congratulations," Rod Laver said.