Rafael Nadal news: Spaniard wins Melbourne title to mark successful comeback

The Spaniard marked his return to the ATP Tour in some style, beating American qualifier Maxime Cressy 7-6, 6-3 in the final.

Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his Melbourne title; Credit: [email protected]

20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has made a huge statement ahead of the season’s first Grand Slam – Australian Open – by lifting the Melbourne Summer Set trophy on Sunday. The Spaniard marked his return to the ATP Tour in some style, beating American qualifier Maxime Cressy 7-6, 6-3 in the final. What makes the title impressive is the fact that Nadal was playing for the first time since August after a foot injury curtailed his 2021 season. Despite making a comeback after a lengthy absence, the ‘King of Clay’ showed little sign of rustiness in Melbourne. The World No.6 was at his ruthless best, as he did not drop a single set at the ATP 250 event to earn his 89th tour-level crown.

“I want to thank all the organisation here,” Nadal said during the trophy ceremony. “I feel privileged and a very lucky guy to be here again. I am coming back from some challenging moments in terms of injuries, so I can’t be happier. It means a lot to be back and with a trophy in my hands.”

Rafael Nadal shows his comeback skills

The match was an entertaining affair with Cressy using his high-flying serve-and-volley game to constantly put Nadal under pressure. However, the Spaniard returned well throughout the match to maintain his high level of tennis. The 35-year-old left-handed star did not have it all easy, as he needed to save a set point in the first-set tie-break. Then, he fought back from a break down in the second set before winning the match after one hour and 44 minutes.

“This court has always been very, very special for me,” Nadal said. “The Rod Laver Arena is very, very special for everyone and it is more special because of you guys. You guys are a great crowd and I can’t thank you enough.”

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With his victory, Nadal has now prolonged his run of clinching at least one tour-level title every year since 2004. The first ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair was an interesting one, as there was very little to separate them in the opening set. In the end, a tie-break was needed to determine the winner of the set. 

To the crowd’s surprise, the World No.112 moved to set point at 6/5 in the tie-break. Nadal, as he did multiple times throughout his career, fought back brilliantly to bag the tie-break and the set to lead the match. The Spaniard showed his comeback ability again in the second set, rallying from a break down to assert his dominance. He fired seven aces in the set to clinch his victory.

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