Two stars – Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev – shone the brightest past midnight on Monday at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne in the men’s singles final at Australian Open 2022 as even the astronomical objects would have taken note and envied their rising stature. The Spaniard huffed and puffed his way to earn a slender distinction of 21 Grand Slam titles – the most in men’s singles tennis history – ahead of his active rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic who have 20 each while the Russian was a star that was born as he missed out on a second Grand Slam title in as many consecutive appearances at the summit clash in Australia.
Nadal and Medvedev were separated after a herculean effort of five hours and 24 minutes with five sets between them. The first two and half hours of the finale belonged to the Russian. He took a 2-6, 6-7(5) lead which saw him save a set point and later break on his own in a stiff tiebreaker to stand just one set away from creating history. The numbers further consolidated his dominance after the initial hours of the play as he recorded five aces to none from Nadal, 81 per cent wins while serving first and 82 per cent first serve wins. But it all went downhill for the Russian from there on.
“What he [@RafaelNadal] did today, I was amazed.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 30, 2022
Nadal’s continuous string of unforced errors by the second set turned the tide of the match towards Medvedev. But the Russian – three-time Grand Slam finalist – failed to hold on to his nerves as his mind looked all over the place.
Medvedev, who was fined $AUD17,000 for his outburst at a chair umpire in the semi-final, looked disturbed all-over again and opened fire of words over the umpire in between the first and second set of the summit clash. “They are idiots,” he said, referring to spectators who were making noise.
“No brains, empty brains. Probably their life must be very bad.”
The segment proved that even though he was in control of the proceedings on the hard court, his mind was wandering over small nuisances around the court which could have been avoided or dealt with in a calmer manner. It, further, resulted in the 25-year-old failing to convert his chances in the third set and starting to lose the plot as Nadal came back stronger with a clear added physical advantage.
Things, however, got nervy in the fifth set as the Russian got a breakpoint at 30-40 before Nadal found the net to make it 5-5. But from there on, unforced errors from his part, and better composure from Nadal helped him seal the Australian Open 2022 title and create history!
But, nevertheless, throughout his run at the Australian Open 2022, the Russian showed that he has character to build on besides having all the makings of a great. His technique to toss the ball all over the place to make the reading of his serve nearly impossible with focus could further turn him into a handful and well cause some upsets in near future. The two consecutive Australian Open final appearances and one Grand Slam win are only a testament to that.