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From Down Under to twenty first century: Spaniard places heartbreaks in Australia behind him

4 min read

It’s becoming that Melbourne Park was the venue for Rafael Nadal’s record-breaking twenty first Grand Slam title. The 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 over Daniil Medvedev additionally ended his lengthy wait of successful all 4 Grand Slams at the very least twice.
Injuries and unhealthy luck had put the ‘hard’ in ‘hardcourts’ for Nadal on the Australian Open — christened the ‘Happy Slam’ by Roger Federer for being the primary Major of the season for the recharged, impressed gamers.
After successful his first hardcourt Major on the Australian Open in 2009 — a five-set victory that decreased the Swiss nice to tears — Nadal had had a horrid run of luck Down Under. The venue has witnessed two of the one thrice that Nadal has retired halfway right into a match: the 2010 and 2018 quarterfinals.

That 2️⃣1️⃣ second#AusOpen • #AO2022 • @RafaelNadal
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 30, 2022
In 2010, his knee gave out whereas he was down 0-3 within the third set in opposition to Andy Murray, whereas in 2018 Nadal needed to retire 0-2 within the fifth set in opposition to Marin Cilic as a consequence of a hip harm.

In 2011, Nadal was gunning for a fourth straight Grand Slam triumph when a hamstring niggle and spirited compatriot David Ferrer ended his marketing campaign within the quarterfinal.

Reunited with Norm 🏆#AusOpen • #AO2022 • @RafaelNadal
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 30, 2022
“For me, it’s all about the Australian Open more than anything else, no?” Nadal had stated forward of Sunday’s closing. “It’s just an amazing event. I have been a little bit unlucky during my career with some injuries and other times I played amazing finals with good chances against Novak (Djokovic) 2012, against Roger 2017. I was close a couple of times. I feel very lucky that I won once in my career.”
Injuries and 7 quarterfinal exits since successful the 2009 title would have stung, positive. But defeats in basic Australian Open finals would have harm unbearably. Nadal has been a part of epics in Melbourne, however solely because the second lead.
Bittersweet reminiscences
The 2012 closing in opposition to Novak Djokovic, usually cited as the best tennis match of all time, noticed the 2 titans play their hearts out in a five-hour, 53-minute contest. Nadal was 4-2 up within the decider, earlier than a daily backhand missed its mark. The Serb clawed again and shut the door. The presentation ceremony from 2012 is recalled as vividly because the match itself.

While the dignitaries talked, the 2 twenty-somethings stretched, bent over, rested their arms on their knees and even leaned up in opposition to the web for help… earlier than a benevolent fellow retrieved two chairs.

The 2014 closing noticed Stanislas Wawrinka win his first Grand Slam in opposition to a hobbling Nadal. He had suffered a again harm throughout the warm-up, competed for 4 units whereas nursing a blister the scale of a Rs10 coin on his hand, and finally misplaced to a participant he had a 12-0 report in opposition to.

Then in 2017, Nadal and Federer turned again the clock. The former had the match below management earlier than the 35-year-old Federer fought again from 1-3 down within the fifth set to win 5 straight video games, and spark a mini-renaissance for himself.

The closing in opposition to Djokovic in 2019 was an epic of a distinct type. Djokovic dismantled Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. “Things started so quick,” Nadal snapped his fingers to elucidate his heaviest closing defeat. There was no chagrin. Only the chilly, exhausting, ‘you-got-me’ acceptance of a gunslinger who had misplaced to a faster draw.

He didn’t fare significantly better in opposition to #GenNext. Last yr, he misplaced to Stefanos Tsitsipas after being 2-0 units up — solely the second such Grand Slam loss for Nadal.

“I’m not at all feeling unlucky for me and I’m not at all complaining about my luck here in Australia. Everyone has what they deserve, tennis isn’t a sport that is fair and I have what I deserve in my career,” he instructed reporters. “Probably here in Australia, I’ve had chances but I was not able to convert it, so that’s all. I didn’t deserve more. We can find a lot of excuses and reasons but all the reason is I was not able to convert the opportunities I’ve had in my career.”

Polite to a fault
Nadal, in fact, refused to quote unhealthy luck. But so painful was his report on the event that even tennis writers went into denial. Earlier this month, a veteran journalist quizzed Nadal: “You haven’t reached the semifinals at the Australian Open since you won the title in 2009. I just wondered if there’s anything you find difficult or challenging about the conditions compared to other Grand Slams.”
Befuddled and bemused, the 35-year-old corrected the reporter, in signature Nadal politeness.
“I’m very sorry to let you know – I don’t need to – however I’ve been within the closing of 2012, ’14, ’17, ’18. I received injured a few occasions right here in my tennis profession, so in fact, it’s been a terrific event for me, and naturally, I had loads of challenges when it comes to accidents on this occasion.
“Sorry to correct you,” he repeated with a smile.
The monkey’s off his again now. Another five-set epic, that too in opposition to a youthful star, and this time Nadal was decidedly the star of the present.

Last #AusOpen?@RafaelNadal says not so quick 😁 🏆#AusOpen • #AO2022 • #AOInterview
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 30, 2022
“I am super, super-tired in all ways. I can’t even celebrate. But was the day to give everything, no?” Nadal instructed reporters. “At the end, having this trophy with me means everything today, no?”

For Nadal, Melbourne Park is Heartbreak Hotel no extra.