At the beginning of the season, the 20-time Major winner Rafael Nadal did not know what to expect during the Aussie swing. Nadal had a rough 2021 season, winning two ATP titles on clay and failing to reach a Major final, which did not happen many times since 2005.
Struggling with injuries, the Spaniard played only 29 matches last year and missed all the action after Washington in early August due to a left foot injury. In September, Rafa underwent a minor procedure and returned to the practice court at home in Mallorca.
Hoping to get ready for the new season, Nadal played two matches at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in December, losing to Andy Murray and Denis Shapovalov before returning home for more practice. Meanwhile, Rafa tested positive for the coronavirus on arrival in Spain and spent a couple of days at home before hitting the court again.
With not much time left to decide on the Melbourne trip, Nadal had thought a lot about his next move before opting to start the season as it was planned and test his current physical shape Down Under. Not knowing what to expect, Rafa signed to play the ATP 250 event in Melbourne and defeated three rivals to lift the first ATP trophy since May last year.
His A-game was not there, but his confidence raised ahead of the Australian Open, as he felt good on the court. Ready for more at the Australian Open, the 2009 champion stopped the clock to beat six opponents and find himself in the sixth Australian Open final.
Rafael Nadal overcame a foot injury to claim the Australian Open title.
Eager to avoid the fifth consecutive loss, Nadal earned a 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory over world no. 2 Daniil Medvedev in five hours and 24 minutes!
The Spaniard prevailed in the second-longest Major final after losing the opening two sets and trailing 3-2, 40-0 in the third. Battling hard, Rafa endured all the obstacles and secured one of his most incredible comebacks ever, celebrating the record-breaking 21st Major title.
Nadal's coach Carlos Moya admitted that Rafa insisted on going to Australia and trying, although they were not far from skipping the season's opening month. "Rafa is the one who insisted on going to Australia and playing the first tournament.
He was aware that it might not go well but knew it could serve him well ahead of the Australian Open. In that aspect, Rafa was very brave. The practice sessions went well right from the beginning, and he liked the surface. Still, it's true that we almost skipped the Aussie swing," Carlos Moya said.