Rafael Nadal achieved one of the most unexpected feats of the modern era, winning the Australian Open for the second time in his career. The former world number 1 had arrived in Melbourne amidst a thousand uncertainties, having had to deal with a serious foot injury in 2021.
Suffice it to say that the Spanish phenomenon played the misery of seven official tournaments last year, putting on the bulletin board a couple of trophies on the beloved clay. The 35-year-old from Manacor failed his assault on his 14th Roland Garros, having to bow to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
Hardly anyone imagined that the Iberian could triumph again 'Down Under', a tournament that historically had not brought him great luck. Two sets behind against Daniil Medvedev, the Majorcan found the strength to overturn the challenge and become champion for the second time.
Thanks to this success, Rafa took his 21st major by overtaking Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time rankings. To Eurosport's microphones, Mats Wilander expressed all his admiration for Nadal.
Wilander praises Rafa Nadal
35-year-old Rafael Nadal wrote history by winning the Australian Open 2022.
In doing so, Nadal became the first man in the Open era to win 21 Grand Slam titles. Additionally, he also broke his tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who have both won 20 Grand Slam titles each. “To me this is the best comeback in the Open era,” Wilander told Eurosport.
“Winning the 21st Grand Slam title, 35 years old, being 36 when the French Open comes around and he beats the best player in the world in Daniil Medvedev you would have to call him after winning the US Open. It is indescribable and I do not know where Rafael Nadal finds that strength.
It’s just incredible. He is two sets down and you are playing Medvedev, you are not playing Matteo Berrettini – by that, I mean someone who doesn’t play long rallies. This is physical. Somehow he figured out how to get free points on the serve, free points on the forehand”.
Tim Henman also joined his colleague in praising Nadal's achievement, which came about four months after the Spaniard was forced to call off his 2021 season due to a serious foot injury. “I can’t quite get my head around it given the last six months for Rafa having not played much coming into this event and all the circumstances he faced prior to the tournament.
The resilience, he was down two sets to love, I thought he was cooked and he finds a way to keep on fighting and coming back."