Rafael Nadal has won the Australian Open, breaking a three-way tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam victories in men's singles tennis history, after more than five hours of play.
On Sunday, Nadal won his 21st Grand Slam championship, defeating Daniil Medvedev, the world's No. 2 player, 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Nadal came back from two sets behind to win the Australian Open for the first time since 2009.
"It's been one of the most emotional evenings of my tennis career, and it's been an honor to share it with you," Nadal said after the loss against Medvedev.
His victory was the culmination of a tremendous recovery from injury.
Nadal has now won each of the four major championships twice, but a victory in Melbourne was never a foregone conclusion. He's had to deal with a variety of medical challenges in the past, including knee problems and Müller-Weiss disease, which causes persistent discomfort in the middle of the foot. The Spaniard had foot surgery earlier this year, and he tested positive for COVID-19 in late December.
"To be honest, I didn't know if I'd be able to be back on the tour playing tennis again a month and a half ago, and now I'm here in front of all of you with this trophy, and you have no idea how hard I worked to get here," Nadal said. "I can't express my gratitude enough."
A competition that got off to a rocky start
His triumph puts an end to a tournament that had been dogged by questions over Novak Djokovic's immunization status. Djokovic seemed to be set to defend his championship in Melbourne after months of uncertainty about whether the famous vaccine skeptic would be able to compete due to Australia's rigorous travel immunization requirements. Immigration officials eventually revoked his visa, and he was deported back to Serbia after serving time in immigration jail. When questioned about Djokovic's situation, Nadal said the competition regulations were apparent months before he arrived in the nation.
"The only thing I can say is that I trust what individuals who are knowledgeable about medicine say, and if they say we should get vaccinated, we should receive the vaccination. That is my viewpoint "Earlier last month, Nadal stated.