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Five Fun Facts From Nadal's Australian Open Title

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2022

Rafael Nadal defeated World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final for his second title at the season’s first major. looks at five fun facts from the Spaniard’s victory Down Under.

It Was Nadal’s Record-Breaking 21st Major Title
Nadal broke a tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for the most men’s singles major titles in history. Djokovic and Federer are tied in second place with two. This is the first time Nadal has had more Grand Slam titles than Federer.

The Spaniard won his first major trophy at Roland Garros in 2005. He has captured 13 Roland Garros crowns, four US Open titles and two victories each at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Rafa Completed His Second Career Grand Slam
Nadal is just the fourth man in history to win all four major titles multiple times. The lefty joined Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and Djokovic in the elite group. Only Nadal and Djokovic have accomplished the feat in the Open Era.

Separately, Nadal became only one of three men aged 35 or older who have won the Australian Open, joining Federer and Rosewall.

More From 2022 AO Final
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It Was His First Two-Set Comeback In More Than 14 Years
When the 35-year-old fell two sets behind Medvedev, a comeback seemed a daunting challenge. Nadal had not rallied from two sets down in more than 14 years. 

Before Sunday, the Spaniard had only done that three times. His most recent two-set comeback was at Wimbledon in 2007 against Mikhail Youzhny. He also did it at Wimbledon in 2006 against Robert Kendrick and in the 2005 Mutua Madrid Open final against Ivan Ljubicic.

Rafael Nadal
Photo Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Nadal Has Won Multiple Titles For 18 Consecutive Years
Rafa moved to 10-0 on the 2022 season on Sunday with triumphs at the Melbourne Summer Set and the Australian Open. With those two trophies, he has earned at least two tour-level crowns in 18 consecutive seasons.

Overall, Nadal has lifted 90 tour-level titles in his storied career. The only men who have claimed more in the Open Era are Jimmy Connors (109), Federer (103) and Ivan Lendl (94).

He Has Won Two Five-Setters Against Medvedev In Major Finals
This was not the first time Nadal has clawed past Medvedev in a major final. In the 2019 US Open championship match, the lefty let slip a two-set advantage before steadying himself in the fifth set to capture the crown.

Nadal leads Medvedev 4-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, with all five of their clashes coming on the biggest stages in the sport. Two were in major finals, two at the Nitto ATP Finals, and their first meeting was in the final at the 2019 ATP Masters 1000 event in Canada.

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Del Potro Accepts Wild Cards Into Buenos Aires & Rio de Janeiro

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2022

Juan Martin del Potro has accepted a wild card into next week’s Argentina Open in Buenos Aires and the Rio Open presented by Claro in Rio de Janeiro the week of 14 February, the tournaments announced on Monday.

The ‘Tower of Tandil’, who has climbed as high as No. 3 in the ATP Rankings, has not competed since the 2019 cinch Championships in London at the Queen’s Club. The Argentine has undergone four right knee surgeries since then.

The 33-year-old Del Potro, currently World No. 757, has not played in the Argentina Open, an ATP 250, since 2006 when he was 17. That year, he lost against former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Del Potro is set to make his debut at the Rio Open presented by Claro, an ATP 500 event. In 2016, the Argentine won the men’s singles silver medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Both the Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro tournaments are held on clay.



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Bhambri Earns Dream Win In Pune

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2022

Indian Yuki Bhambri earned his first tour-level win in almost four years on Monday, clawing past Jozef Kovalik 6-7(10), 6-2, 7-5 at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune.

The former World No. 83, whose last victory at this level came against Mirza Basic in Miami in 2018, has only played two tour-level singles matches since 2019 due to a right knee injury.

In a hard-fought clash on home soil, the 29-year-old recovered from squandering three set points in an intense first-set tie-break to prevail after three hours and seven minutes.

“It was really long and really tough but I am happy to get through,” Bhambri said. “It is a privilege to play at home and it is an important win as well playing at my home tournament. Each match is tough at tour-level so I am just taking it one match at a time.”

Bhambri is making his second appearance at the ATP 250 event and will look to continue his run against either countryman Ramkumar Ramanathan or Italy’s Stefano Travaglia in the second round.

Radu Albot continued his journey back towards the Top 100 with a 6-2, 7-6(3) first-round win over Italian Federico Gaio in one hour and 50 minutes.

The World No. 108 has struggled with injuries since reaching a career-high No. 39 in 2019. However, he arrived in Pune in form after he equalled his best Grand-Slam performance by advancing to the third round at the Australian Open earlier this month.

The Moldovan broke three times to set up a meeting against either fifth-seeded German Daniel Altmaier or Indian wild card Prajnesh Gunneswaran.

In other action, Quentin Halys lost just two points on his first serve as he upset seventh seed Ricardas Berankis 6-1, 6-2 after 74 minutes.

The Frenchman fired six aces and saved both break points he faced to clinch his first tour-level win since 2018. Berankis is a former semi-finalist in Pune, having reached the last four in 2020. Halys will next play Briton qualifier Jay Clarke or Pole Kamil Majchrzak.

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Dominic Thiem Withdraws From Cordoba

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2022

Austrian star Dominic Thiem has withdrawn from the Cordoba Open due to a hand injury.

“In the last days, I suffered a minor injury between my knuckles, a little strain of my ligaments. The positive thing is the wrist is perfectly fine, but I’m suffering pain in my hand and also lacking practice, so I have to pull out,” Thiem said. “I’m very sad, but I’m going to come back once I’m 100 per cent fit, and thank you so much for the great and warm welcome I had here in Cordoba.”

The former World No. 3 has not competed since suffering a tear in his right wrist at the Mallorca Championships last June. He arrived in Cordoba, where he trained before deciding to withdraw from the ATP 250 clay-court event.

Thiem, who was the second seed, was scheduled to play Argentine wild card Tomas Martin Etcheverry or Chilean qualifier Nicolas Jarry in the second round. He will be replaced in the draw by a lucky loser.

Thiem is a 17-time tour-level champion, who lifted his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open and his maiden Grand Slam trophy at the 2020 US Open. He is currently No. 37 in the ATP Rankings.


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Berrettini Rises To Career-High, Mover Of Week

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2022

No. 6 Matteo Berrettini, +2 (Career High)
The 25-year-old has climbed one spot to a career-high No. 6 in the ATP Rankings after he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open for the first time. The Italian earned victories over Top 20 pair Gael Monfils and Pablo Carreno Busta, while he also survived an attacking bombardment from #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the third round. Read Australian Open Final Report & Watch Highlights

View Latest ATP Rankings

No. 12 Denis Shapovalov, +2
The Canadian has risen two places after he continued his strong start to the season in Melbourne. The 22-year-old, who helped guide Canada to the ATP Cup title at the start of January, shocked World No. 3 Alexander Zverev en route to the quarter-finals at the first major of the year.

No. 16 Gael Monfils, +4
The Frenchman rolled back the years at the Australian Open as he reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the first time since 2016. It means the 35-year-old move has moved four places to No. 16 in the ATP Rankings. The 11-time tour-level titlist did not drop a set before he lost to Berrettini in five sets.

No. 29 Carlos Alcaraz, +2 (Career High)
The 18-year-old has soared into the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings for the first time after he advanced to the third round at the Australian Open. The reigning Intesa Next Gen ATP Finals champion defeated Alejandro Tabilo and Dusan Lajovic in his second appearance at Melbourne Park.

No. 33 Alex de Minaur, +9
The Australian had an enjoyable fortnight on home soil, reaching the fourth round at his home Slam for the first time. The 22-year-old, who was making his fifth appearance in Melbourne, earned an impressive victory over #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti in the first round, before eventually losing to 20-year-old Jannik Sinner in the fourth round.

Other Notable Top 100 Movers
No. 17 Pablo Carreno Busta, +4
No. 20 Taylor Fritz, +2 (Career High)
No. 22 Daniel Evans, +2 (Joint Career High)
No. 24 Reilly Opelka, +5
No. 25 Grigor Dimitrov, +3
No. 50 Botic van de Zandschulp, +7 (Career High)
No. 58 Adrian Mannarino +11
No. 59 Maxime Cressy, +11 (Career High)
No. 63 Miomir Kecmanovic, +14
No. 73 Pablo Andujar, +10
No. 77 Sebastian Baez, +11 (Career High)
No. 82 Ricardas Berankis, +11
No. 84 Oscar Otte, +12 (Career High)
No. 89 Corentin Moutet, +11
No. 95 Kamil Majchrzak, +12

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Brain Game: How Nadal Powered Up For Record-Breaking Australian Open Title

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2022

The points were going long. Ironically, the match was slipping fast.

Rafael Nadal orchestrated a stunning comeback in the Australian Open final to defeat Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. The match lasted five hours and 24 minutes and finished at 1:11 a.m. Monday morning. Figuring out the winning game plan finally materialised for the Spaniard in the dead of the night.

The length of the rally ended up being the canary in the coal mine for Nadal as you examine his performance throughout the match and the tournament. The average rally of his first six matches en route to the final was a routine 4.05 shots per point. His quarter-final victory over Denis Shapovalov was a brisk 3.11 shots per point, while his victory against Adrian Mannarino in the previous round averaged a crisp 3.55 shots per point. Rafa was clearly reaping the benefits of an attacking game style as he marched through the Melbourne draw on courts that felt liked the ball was “skidding” more than “sitting” after the bounce.

Then Medvedev turned up on the other side of the net and all the attacking went out the window.

More From 2022 AO Final
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The Russian grounded Nadal’s aggressive game style to a screeching halt in the opening set, with the average rally length skyrocketing to 6.27 shots per point. The longest rally length to the final for Nadal was in the first round, in which he defeated Marcos Giron, averaging 4.75 shots per point.

The first set of the final seemed like the players were hitting in slow motion. Cat and mouse replaced shock and awe for the Spaniard. The slower, longer rallies stalled Nadal’s offence as he coughed up 23 errors to just 10 for Medvedev in the opening stanza. Slower speed. Different height. Reacting rather than playing on the front foot.

Set one was a grind. Set two was even more so, as the average rally length ballooned to 6.83 shots per point. Slice backhands were replacing the typical run-around forehands in the Deuce court for Nadal. A hefty 28 points were played in rallies of nine shots or more in the second set, with Medvedev winning the tie-break 7/5. They were happy to trade blows with a 40-shot rally early in the second set. Extended rallies felt like the new norm.

The deepest hole Nadal found himself in was serving at 0/40 at 2-3 in the third set. He was a heartbeat away from certain peril. Once he doggedly held serve, he started playing with more aggression and looked to force the issue more than wait for Medvedev to hand him an error.

And then the rally length came down, the power went up, and an unlikely victory was born from refusing to call it a day.

Average Rally Length By Set
Set 1 = 6.27 shots
– Set 2 = 6.83 shots
– Set 3 = 5.56 shots
– Set 4 = 5.03 shots
– Set 5 = 4.31 shots

The more Nadal sunk his teeth into the match, the more the average rally length came back to his wheelhouse, not Medvedev’s.

In the deciding fifth set, there were fewer long rallies of at least nine shots compared to any other set.

Rallies Of 9+ Shots By Set
– Set 1 = 15
– Set 2 = 28
– Set 3 = 15
– Set 4 = 12
– Set 5 = 11

One of the greatest tennis strategies of all time is to simply hang around. When things are not going your way, just hang around. Don’t go away. Things change. Seasons change. Night can turn to day. Twenty can turn to 21 if you just hang around long enough to figure out the problem at hand.

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Look Back At Nadal's Four Comebacks From Two Sets Down

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2022

Rafael Nadal’s stunning 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 comeback victory against Daniil Medvedev was not just the first Australian Open final in which the champion rallied from two set down to win since Roy Emerson defeated Fred Stolle in 1965. It was also just the fourth time Nadal has overcome a two-set deficit in his storied career.

The last time Nadal battled from two sets down? Nearly 15 years ago, at Wimbledon in 2007 against Mikhail Youzhny. looks at the four times the Spaniard has rallied from two sets down.

2005 Madrid Final – Nadal d. Ivan Ljubicic 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3)
Entering the 2005 Mutua Madrid Open final, it was no surprise Nadal would have a difficult time with Croatian Ivan Ljubicic. The pair had met twice earlier that year, in Doha and Miami, splitting those meetings.

The task became even more daunting for the home favourite when he won just five games in the first two sets. With Ljubicic firing huge serve after huge serve on the hard court (Madrid transitioned to clay in 2009), Nadal struggled to strike back.

But even at 19, Nadal already had a steely resolve. Despite winning nine fewer points in the match (145-154), the lefty used the support of his home crowd to claw back. Ljubicic struck 32 aces, but it was not enough. Nadal rallied for a 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3) victory.

“I think it was very difficult match for sure,” Nadal said. “Two sets to zero down, Ljubicic playing unbelievable. I [was able to] do nothing because he was playing unbelievable. He served very, very good.”

More From 2022 AO Final
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Nadal Adds To ‘Big Titles’ Count
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2006 Wimbledon R2 – Nadal d. Robert Kendrick 6-7(4), 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-4
In the second round at Wimbledon less than a year later, Nadal also found himself on the opposite end of the court of a big server in Robert Kendrick. The American did not have the pedigree of Ljubicic, but the No. 237 player in the ATP Rankings had a powerful game to trouble the Spaniard on the grass.

At the time, it was unclear how well Nadal would adapt his game to the slick surface. He had gone 3-2 in his first two appearances at Wimbledon in 2003 and 2005, and at the time the world did not know he would become a two-time champion at the event. Kendrick powered his way to within two points of the biggest victory of his career. But Nadal advanced, defeated Andre Agassi in the next round and eventually reached his first final at The Championships (l. to Federer).

“[It] was very tough. He played a very good match, very complete match,” Nadal said. “I was playing very well. I played with [a] very good attitude all time because [it] was very tough. So I am very happy for the victory.”

Rafael Nadal
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
2007 Wimbledon R4 – Nadal d. Mikhail Youzhny 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2
One year on from reaching his first final at Wimbledon, Nadal needed to claw through his third-round clash against Robin Soderling — who later handed him his first Roland Garros loss — in five sets. In the fourth round, things did not get easier for the Spaniard.

Russian Mikhail Youzhny, who was World No. 13 at the time, used his variety to take a two-set lead against the World No. 2. Youzhny had won two of their past three clashes, including a four-setter in the 2006 US Open quarter-finals. But like Nadal did the year before against Kendrick, he found a way to win, converting six of his 10 break points in the match. Nadal went on to reach his second final at the grass-court major (l. to Federer).

“Youzhny was playing very good. I’m feeling [I was] not playing my best. But the truth [is] he played very well. For that reason I couldn’t play very well, too,” Nadal said. “I played [a] little bit defensive. His game is very good for this surface. He played very flat all [the] time, fast. He has one serve, the serve is always going down. [His serve] doesn’t bounce high. Yeah, it’s tough.

“After the first two sets, the next three sets maybe I played my best game on grass in my life.”

2022 Australian Open Final – Nadal d. Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5
Nadal downplayed his chances leading into the 2022 Australian Open. After the Citi Open in early August 2021, he missed the rest of the year due to a left foot injury. It would be tough for him to round into form quickly enough for best-of-five tennis against the best players in the world, right?


Nadal was in deep trouble against second seed Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion, though. The Russian led 6-2, 7-6(5), 3-2, and held three consecutive break points at 0/40 on Nadal’s serve. But the Spaniard found a way to get out of trouble and raised his level from there.

“In that moment, of course [the] situation [was] critical. But sport is unpredictable,” Nadal said. “If you fight [until] the end, [the] normal thing is [to] lose the match in straight sets after that situation. On the other hand, I had a big chance in the second, too.

“I don’t know. I was repeating to myself during the whole match, I lost a lot of times here having chances, sometimes I was a little bit unlucky. I just wanted to keep believing [until] the end. I just wanted to give myself a chance.”

Nadal did just that. Medvedev steadied himself in the fifth set, leading to a rollercoaster of momentum shifts. Nadal let slip an opportunity to serve for the title at 5-4 in the decider, but broke back in the next game before successfully serving out the match at the second time of asking. The legendary lefty became the first player in the Open Era to rally from two sets down in the Australian Open final.

Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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