Novak Djokovic praises Rafael Nadal: 'He is an incredible fighter'

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Novak Djokovic praises Rafael Nadal: 'He is an incredible fighter'

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic is back in action in Dubai, kicking off the season with a victory over Lorenzo Musetti in under 80 minutes. Novak could not play at the Australian Open after a ten-day saga with his visa, leaving Australia and allowing his rivals to fight for the trophy.

In the worst possible final for Novak's fans, Rafael Nadal prevailed over Daniil Medvedev in a thriller to secure the record-breaking 21st Major crown and move in front of Novak and Roger Federer. For the first time in the Open era, a player came from two sets to love down to win the Australian Open final, and at five hours and 24 minutes, it stands as the second-longest Major title clash ever!

Novak praised Rafa and his incredible fighting spirit, calling the victory over Daniil one of the finest of his outstanding career. Seeking the second consecutive Major title and the ATP throne, Medvedev made a great start against Nadal and took the opener 6-2.

Eager to give his best, Rafa broke at 4-3 in the second set with a perfect drop shot winner and served for it. The Spaniard saved four break points in that ninth game, squandered a game point and experienced a break that almost cost him the title.

From 5-3 down in the tie break, Daniil claimed the last four points and sealed the set with a backhand down the line winner that moved him a set away from the title. Rafa faced three break points in the third set's sixth game, seeing the writings on the wall.

Instead of seizing any, Medvedev allowed his rival to bring the game home and gain a massive boost.

Novak Djokovic spoke about Rafael Nadal and his Australian Open title.

Nadal grabbed a break at 4-4 with a backhand down the line winner and held at love with a forehand winner a few minutes later to introduce set number four.

Rafa broke in game five and held at love at 5-4 to wrap up the set and send the encounter into a decider after four hours and 12 minutes! The best was yet to come, though, as two great rivals pushed each other to the limits in the final set.

Nadal forged a 5-3 lead before Medvedev bounced back to 5-5, surviving a return game at 4-5 before Rafa grabbed the last two games to seal the deal and start a massive celebration. "I tried not to watch the Australian Open final.

Everyone at my home was watching it, and I had to follow it from time to time. I have to congratulate Rafa. He is a fantastic fighter, and this is one of his most significant victories in a career. He was on crutches four or five months ago, and he is now a Major champion. Tons of respect for Rafa, and I do not want to take anything away from him," Novak Djokovic said.