Rafael Nadal earns fifth ITF World Champion award
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 11708
As was expected, Rafael Nadal earned the ITF World Champion award, the first in three years. Nadal claimed two Major crowns in 2022 and reached another semi-final at Wimbledon, standing as the player with the most points and wins at the most notable tournaments.
Thus, Nadal became the fourth player with five ITF honors after Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Rafa skipped the second part of 2021 due to a foot injury and did not know what to expect this January. The Spaniard traveled to Melbourne to find form and test his body.
Nadal passed seven obstacles to secure his first Australian Open title in 13 years and became the first player in history with 21 Major trophies. Rafa advanced to his sixth Australian Open final following a couple of challenging wins, but it seemed he would lose the fifth straight title match at Melbourne Park!
After two hours and 45 minutes, Daniil Medvedev led 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, 40-0 against Rafa. Nadal survived those three break points in the third set's sixth game and started one of his most incredible comebacks. Nadal claimed the third set after breaking the opponent with a backhand down the line winner in game nine and forged an early advantage in the fourth.
Rafa held at love in game ten to wrap up the set and force a decider after four hours and 12 minutes. Pushing strong, the Spaniard placed a forehand down the line winner in the final set's fifth game to open a 3-2 gap and take a significant step toward the finish line.
Nadal endured a massive scare in the sixth game after fending off three break points for a 4-2 advantage. Nadal served for the crown at 5-4 before Medvedev made one last push and broke back to lock the result at 5-5. Staying composed, Rafa seized the third break point in the 11th game and sealed the deal on his serve a few minutes later to write history books.
Four months later, Nadal saught his 14th Roland Garros crown.
Rafael Nadal claimed two Major titles in 2022.
The king of clay missed Monte Carlo and Barcelona due to a fractured rib and experienced early losses in Madrid and Rome.
Struggling with foot pain, Nadal needed injections ahead of every match in Paris to play competitive tennis. The Spaniard overpowered Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final and moved into the title clash when Alexander Zverev retired following a massive semi-final battle that lasted three hours.
Casper Ruud was Nadal's rival in the final, and he could not do much against the most formidable opponent. Rafa notched a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 victory in two hours and 18 minutes for his 22nd Major and another brilliant run at his beloved event.
Nadal broke Ruud eight times from 16 opportunities. Rafa fired 37 winners and 18 unforced errors and pushed the rival's backhand to the limits in one of his most one-sided Roland Garros finals. They stayed neck and neck in the shortest range up to four strokes, and Nadal forged the victory in the more advanced exchanges.
The Spaniard was especially impressive in those rallies with five or six shots, building a 24-6 lead and marching over the finish line in the decider. Casper led 3-1 in the second set before Rafa shifted into a higher gear and rattled off 11 straight games that carried him over the top.
Hoping for more of the same at Wimbledon, Nadal battled past Taylor Fritz after an epic battle in the quarter-final. The Spaniard revealed a seven-millimeter abdominal tear and withdrew ahead of the semi-final clash with Nick Kyrgios.
Rafa failed to recover until the end of the season, playing only nine more matches and ending the US Open campaign in the fourth round against Frances Tiafoe.