A couple of months ago, Rafael Nadal was not even sure of returning to play on a tennis court but he conquered adversity, rallied against odds to script a miracle in Melbourne and win his 2nd Australian Open crown.
Not many gave him a chance when he landed in Melbourne. Even when title favourite Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia, not many gave him a chance. Rafael Nadal had played very little professional tennis since last year's Roland Garros as he began his bid for a 2nd Australian Open crown. The Spaniard himself said he was not expecting too much from himself over the course of 2 weeks as he returned from a serious foot injury concern, not knowing few months ago whether he would be able to ever compete on a tennis court again.
In the absence of Djokovic, the Australian Open 2022 was seen as an opportunity for the members of the Next Gen to stake a further claim that they can move away from the shadows of the Big 3. However, at the end of the 2nd Sunday in Melbourne, it was 35-year-old Rafael Nadal who was brimming with joy with the Norman Brookes Cup.
Nadal defied the odds. As they say, his face-offs against adversity are always one-sided. Over the course of a glittering and awe-inspiring 19-year-long journey in top-flight tennis, there have been several setbacks. His body has seen more injuries than most athletes on the planet. But, there have always been comebacks. And the way in which he fought back in 2022 to win his first Australian Open crown in 13 years will certainly be on top of the list.
In fact, Nadal himself calls his run to the top step of the podium in Melbourne his "greatest" comeback ever.
"If we put everything together... the scenario, the momentum, what it means... yeah without a doubt probably have been the b=biggest comeback of my tennis career," Nadal said after winning the much-talked-about race to No. 21.
"The most unexpected, without a doubt. And most surprising, I think, for everyone. ... For me personally, especially, no? Because I know how I arrived here."
At 35 with all the history of multiple injury concerns, Nadal doubted himself a couple of months back. However, when he was on the court, there was no dearth of belief. He broke free from the three-way tie with Roger Federer and Djokovic to become the first man to win 21 Grand Slam titles.
But if you have followed tennis over the last 20 years, you would have known that the last thing to do is to write off Rafael Nadal. But at 0-40 in the 6th game of the 3rd set, the many watching the match from in front of their television screens had given up. But Nadal once again proved why it's wrong to rule him out when he is facing adversity.
He stormed back. The Melbourne crowd breathed back to life. Medvedev was getting increasingly frustrated with the way the partisan crowd was cheering on the warrior from Spain to push for the record-breaking No. 21, his long-awaited 2nd title in Melbourne. And Nadal did.