After a ten-day saga, Novak Djokovic could not defend his Australian Open title this January. Novak lost the legal battle on the court, and his visa got rejected, with the authorities stating that his presence could stir anti-vaccination sentiments!
For Novak's fans, the worst scenario was to have Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal in the final, and exactly that happened. Thus, those who support Djokovic had to pick between losing the ATP throne to Medvedev and falling to Nadal in the Major chase, as the Spaniard sought the 21st Major crown in Melbourne.
As Novak admitted, his son Stefan cheered for Rafa, while his wife Jelena picked Daniil. In the end, Nadal prevailed 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in five hours and 24 minutes, lifting the record-breaking 21st Major trophy and moving in front of Federer and Djokovic.
It was the second-longest Major final in tennis history, and Rafa became the first player in the Open era who came back from two sets to love down in the Australian Open final. After two hours and 45 minutes, Medvedev led 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, 40-0, having three break chances that could have sent him closer to the second consecutive Major title.
Unwilling to surrender, Nadal saved those break chances and grabbed a break in the ninth game with a backhand down the line winner that gave him a massive boost. In game ten, the Spaniard held at love with a forehand winner to claim the set and improve his chances.
Jelena Djokovic cheered for Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final.
Rafa earned the fourth set with a break in game five and built a 5-3 advantage in the decider, hoping to seal the deal on his serve at 5-4. Instead, Daniil pulled the break back to extend the clash and make it even more memorable.
Still, it was not to be for world no. 2, as he got broken in game 11 and allowed Nadal to seal the deal a few minutes later on his serve, celebrating one of the most thrilling comebacks in Major finals and the record-breaking 21st title.
"It was not easy for me to watch the Australian Open final. I was neutral; I did not want to cheer for any of the finalists because I badly wanted to be there myself. Still, my family got involved, as my wife cheered for Daniil, and my son for Rafa, jumping around after every point he won, fist-pumping as he does on the court.
A few days ago, Stefan asked me if I knew the next tournament where both Rafa and I are playing. I told him that should hopefully happen soon, and he explained to me that he wants to take a picture with Rafa. I'm sure we will arrange that," Novak Djokovic said.