When Rafael Nadal received an honor from legendary Rod Laver

Tennis - The Aussie praised Nadal after this year's Australian Open

by Jovica Ilic
When Rafael Nadal received an honor from legendary Rod Laver

Rafael Nadal had a nightmare run in 2021, playing 29 matches and missing a chance to fight for Major titles. Rafa played only two encounters after Roland Garros and did not know what to expect at the start of 2022. Making the last-minute decision, Nadal flew to Melbourne and scored ten victories at two events to make a name for himself and write history.

Rafa survived the quarter-final battle against Denis Shapovalov to reach the Australian Open semi-final. Despite losing four kilograms in that match, Rafa was ready for the next duel versus Matteo Berrettini, toppling the Italian and setting the title clash against Daniil Medvedev.

Nadal looked done and dusted after trailing 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, 40-0, with the Russian controlling the pace and moving toward his second consecutive Major crown. Rafa stayed competitive and performed one of his most remarkable comebacks in a 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 triumph in five hours and 24 minutes.

Thus, Nadal became the first player in the Open era who lifted the trophy from two sets to love down in Melbourne. 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 and saved two break points in the eighth game. He 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. After the final, the legend Rod 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. "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.

Rafael Nadal Rod Laver Australian Open