Rafael Nadal: 'I'm happy to be back in Melbourne after a great run in 2022'

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Rafael Nadal: 'I'm happy to be back in Melbourne after a great run in 2022'

Struggling with a foot injury, Rafael Nadal played only two matches in the second part of 2021, ending the season in August. The Spaniard did not know what to expect at the start of 2022, losing both matches at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship a few weeks earlier and catching the coronavirus.

However, Rafa was ready to play competitive tennis in Melbourne and fight for every victory. Feeling good on the practice court and not thinking about titles, Nadal found his A-game to claim two titles and write history books at the Australian Open.

The Spaniard conquered the season's first Major for the first time since 2009 and earned the record-breaking 21st Major title. Rafa moved well and did everything right to overcome a couple of formidable rivals and gain the crown.

Nadal will kick off his 18th Australian Open with no form in his legs, just like a year ago. Rafa has lost seven of his previous 11 matches since August, struggling with an injury and hoping for a fresh start next week. Nadal feels good in Melbourne, training well and remembering his brilliant run toward the title from 12 months ago.

The Spaniard lost one set in the opening four rounds in Melbourne last year before facing Denis Shapovalov in the quarter-final. Nadal prevailed in five grueling sets, losing four kilograms but recovering ahead of the next duel.

Rafa beat Matteo Berrettini in the semi-final and advanced into his sixth Australian Open final, hoping to avoid the fifth consecutive loss. Nadal was close to it after trailing 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, 40-0 versus Daniil Medvedev. Rafa refused to surrender and delivered a 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory in five hours and 24 minutes, prevailing in the second most extended Major final ever!

Nadal was on the verge of defeat when he faced those three break points in the third set's sixth game. Still, he overcame that game and gained a massive boost.

Rafael Nadal claimed his second Australian Open title last year.

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 fifth game to open a 3-2 gap. Nadal survived a massive scare after fending off three break points in the sixth game.

He secured the eighth game to forge a 5-3 advantage and move closer to the finish line. Medvedev made one last push and broke back in game ten to level the score at 5-5. Using his vast experience, Rafa seized the third break chance in the 11th game and sealed the deal on his serve a few minutes later for the record-breaking 21st Major crown.

"I have practiced a lot, and I'm in good shape. I have to demonstrate that in the official matches, and I'm ready after a week of productive practice runs. I'm happy to be back in Melbourne. I had an unforgettable run here last year," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal Australian Open