Rafael Nadal is barely two months after he considered retiring in the Australian Open final
Just two months ago, Rafael Nadal discussed with his inner circle the possibility of saying goodbye to the sport that has been his life.
In a state of despair, there was no expectation that by the end of January he would lead the epic battle against his two great rivals to see who will win the most Grand Slam titles.
Still, securing Slam No 21 is one of two historic results possible on Sunday, when he faces the skinny figure of Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final.
Barely two months ago, Rafael Nadal discussed the possibility of saying goodbye to tennis
Still, securing Slam No 21 is one of two historic results possible in the Australian Open final
The other is that the 26-year-old Russian will become the new No. 1 in the world and the first man in modern times to have a first major success with victory in the next he fights. That went even further than Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer – although those three broke through at a younger age before amassed 60 together.
The Spaniard reached the final by beating Matteo Berrettini, and Medvedev was involved in yet another match characterized by drama, irritation or both in equal measure. Amid furious talks with the referee and more controversy over illegal coaching involving his opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Medvedev won 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Nadal was unusually emotional after making what will be his 29th Grand Slam final, this one following a foot injury that left him missing the second half of last season, exacerbated by a Covid attack in December. He is on the brink of a triumph similar to Federer’s in 2017, when the Swiss also made a winning comeback in Melbourne after months of absence the previous season.
The 26-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev will be the new number 1 in the world if he wins
“I’ve been through many challenging moments, many days of hard work without seeing any light there,” said the Spaniard after a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory that gave him the immense power of the Italian. .
“I’ve had a lot of conversations with the team, with the family about what will happen if it continues like this, thinking it might be a chance to say goodbye. That was not many months ago. To be where I am now – I don’t know, I really can’t explain in words how important it is to me in terms of energy, in terms of personal satisfaction.
“Just to compete again and play tennis at the highest level, against the most important players in the world, is something unbelievable. To be quite honest, it is much more important to me to have the chance to play tennis than to win the 21.’
This would be his second Australian title and he joins Ken Rosewall, Federer, Mal Anderson and Andre Agassi as the fifth man aged 35 or over to reach a Slam final in modern times. Even the torrential rains that forced the roof—his least favorite area—to close couldn’t stop him from seeing Berrettini. Djokovic may look on from a distance, bewildered.
Nadal was unusually emotional after making what will be his 29th Grand Slam final
The Spaniard reached the final on Sunday by beating Matteo Berrettini (left)
Nadal’s match had nothing to do with the arguments over the delay that accompanied his quarter-final victory over Denis Shapovalov.
There was no sign of the personal edge that had long existed between the deceptively athletic Medvedev and his equally idiosyncratic Greek opponent Tsitsipas.
Officials are so concerned about his father Apostolos’ sideline coaching that they have placed Greek referee Eva Asderaki-Moore under the player’s box to spy on him.
After furious complaints from Medvedev, she was told by chairman umpire Jaume Campistol that he had to hand out a code violation in the fourth set.
In his semi-comedic way, the Russian had previously unleashed a diatribe on Campistol in protest at the coaching. It came to the unlikely conclusion that Medvedev told the official, “You are, how can I say, a little cat.”
Amid furious exchanges with the referee, Medvedev beat Stefanos Tsitsipas
Tsitsipas later simply explained that his father cannot restrain himself and said of his opponent’s anger: “Maybe a tactic. It is well. He’s not the most mature person anyway. I’m used to it. They’ve been after me for a long time. Most (coaches) get away with it and they do it pretty smart, I can tell you.’
There is a certain impenetrability about Medvedev, who has the ability to lose control and then reset. He is an odd one out, but turned out to be a better match player than Tsitsipas. Now he comes across the man whose mental resilience is matched only by Djokovic.
“I think we can say it was funny, but I was absolutely crazy,” Medvedev said. “Tennis, you know, we don’t fight with fists, but tennis is a fight. It’s one-on-one against another player.
“It’s hard because I can get very emotional. His father says something in Greek just before I come back. But I don’t know Greek.’
Officials are so concerned about father Tsitsipas’ sideline coaching
Greek star Tsitsipas later simply explained that his father (left) cannot help himself