Rafael Nadal was formidable in this first part of the season. The former world number 1 won the Australian Open against all odds, having recovered from a long stop due to injury. The Spanish phenomenon had arrived in Melbourne without great expectations, but he managed to accomplish one of the most incredible feats of his entire career.
After surviving two real battles against Denis Shapovalov and Matteo Berrettini, the 35-year-old from Manacor rallied Daniil Medvedev two sets in the final. Just when the Russian glimpsed the banner of the finish line, the Iberian cracked his certainties and found the energy necessary to overturn the inertia of the match.
Rafa thus overtook Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to reach 21 Majors, as well as becoming the fourth man in history to have won all the Slams at least twice (along with Djokovic, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson). Despite having obtained any possible recognition, Nadal has always stood out for his humility.
In the latest episode of Holding Court, the podcast hosted by Patrick McEnroe, sports journalist Michelle Kaufman told an anecdote about the Majorcan dating back to a few years ago. Kaufman: "Rafael Nadal has never betrayed his values" Michelle said: "I was covering Wimbledon for the Miami Herald, I don't remember exactly which edition it was.
One day, I was on my way to the club and saw a guy with a large tennis bag who looked a lot like Rafael Nadal. He was walking alone and I couldn't believe it was him. The tournament provides a variety of drivers for players, even if they are housed three blocks away.
There is always a driver ready to come and pick them up. When I approached that boy, I realized that it was really Nadal." The well-known coach Carlos Rodriguez was stunned by Rafa's start to the season: "He has proved once again to be an absolute legend of the sport.
He achieved a formidable feat at almost 36 years old. He arrived at the Australian Open with a thousand uncertainties and hadn't played for five months."