Daniil Medvedev, contesting his fourth Major final, had it all in his hands against Rafael Nadal in this year’s Australian Open title match. The Russian led 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, 40-0 before wasting those three break chances in the sixth game of the third set.
Rafa returned to the match to celebrate a 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory in five hours and 24 minutes and lift the 21st Grand Slam crown. John McEnroe did not expect such a result, saying that Medvedev missed a big chance and choked in that crucial sixth game of the third set.
Nadal did not play well in the first set, struggling and failing on serve for the second set. Medvedev got the better of him in the tie break and found himself with a big lead in the third set. The Spaniard faced those three break points in the sixth game of the third set, and it would have been all over for him if he had lost any of those points.
Like a true champion, Nadal survived that game and earned a break in the ninth game to clinch the set and improve his chances. Things got serious when Rafa broke twice in the fourth set and forced a decider, recovering and fighting like a lion.
The Spaniard opened up a 5-3 lead in the final set before the Russian made one last effort and broke again for 5-5. Nadal started again, breaking again in the 11th game and sealing the deal on his serve to celebrate the first Australian Open crown in 13 years.
“The turning point of the match was when Rafa served at 2-3 in the third. It seemed that Rafa felt deflated. I don’t want to say that he was resigned because he never is, but it seemed that he expected this to happen and that he would end up losing in straight sets.
I think Medvedev played a couple of points, I don’t want to say careless, but weak.”
Lopez opens up on Nadal
When his fellow countryman Feliciano Lopez was asked in 2015 if he thought that Rafael Nadal could walk away with a 10th title, Lopez seemed confident but went a step ahead to hail the tennis icon for the kind of person he was.
“He wants to win all the time in any game he plays. He will do anything in order to beat you. We play poker sometimes – he’s a great player, aggressive sometimes, but he’s a good poker player, I have to say,” Lopez said.
“I think Rafa went further than being a great tennis player. In the society in general, in Spain, everybody loves him as a person. The way he behaves on the court – always fighting till the end – this is what makes the connection with the people possible. He is the son that every mum would love to have,” he added.