Rafael Nadal missed the second part of the 2021 season due to a severe foot injury. The Spaniard played only two matches after Roland Garros and lost the ground to the players from the top. Rafa traveled to Melbourne without big expectations, wanting to test his body and see where he stood in the best-of-five encounters.
As it turned out, the veteran stopped the clock and made his career-best start to the season! Nadal rose above all the issues and stood as a player to beat in the opening six months of 2022. Rafa kicked off the year with a small ATP 250 title in Melbourne and gathered a boost ahead of the Australian Open.
The Spaniard passed a couple of challenging encounters to reach his sixth Melbourne Park final. Daniil Medvedev led 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, 40-0 against Nadal, playing on a higher level and looking good to deliver Rafa's fifth consecutive loss in the Australian Open title matches.
Gathering the last pieces of energy, Nadal survived the third set and started an impressive comeback. The Spaniard prevailed 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in five hours and 24 minutes for the record-breaking 21st Major crown. With momentum on his side, Rafa claimed his fourth Acapulco crown and reached the Indian Wells final.
Rafael Nadal was thrilled with the first part of 2022.
Battling for the fourth title of the season and the 21st straight victory, Rafa lost to Taylor Fritz in straight sets after fracturing his rib in the semi-final against Carlos Alcaraz.
Nadal missed Monte Carlo and Barcelona and returned to action in Madrid and Rome. The king of clay did not play at his best, and more dark clouds were gathering over his head after suffering another foot injury. Rafa needed injections ahead of every match at Roland Garros, killing the pain and passing seven obstacles to secure his 14th clay-court Major.
"The first part of the season was very exciting and emotional. I was making a comeback after five difficult months, and my foot was not in good shape. I caught the virus during the Abu Dhabi exhibition and was devastated after staying home for ten days.
I traveled to Australia just two days after I recovered, and I wondered if that was the right move. I played well in Melbourne but could not imagine what would happen at the Australian Open. The final against Daniil Medvedev was one of the most exciting ones I have ever played," Rafael Nadal said.