THINGS I LOVED THIS WEEK: Nadal Re-Writes History
This was published on my Instagram blog on Jan 31, 2022.
I didn't have to dig deep to come up with this week's moment: it was (obviously) Rafael Nadal beating Daniil Medvedev in a 5-hour-24-minute epic battle to clinch his second Australian Open title and become the first male to win 21 majors. From being in clutches a few months ago, suffering from Covid, not knowing if he'll return to the tour to achieving this feat, everything about this game was absurd and fantastic.
Nadal himself claimed that this was the greatest comeback in his tennis career and that this victory was unexpected and surprising, because of his past experiences at the Australian Open and recent events in his career. I reckon this trophy will hold a special place in his heart.
The match in itself was emblematic of how Rafa has been as a player over the years. A scholar-like student of the game in training, he fights with all his might for each and every point on the court. In all sports, it is taught that the player must stay focused on the immediate present and not let the wanderings and anxieties of what might follow cloud their mind and hence their performance. Nadal is a living study in how to champion that art.
Trailing behind two sets with three break points staring him down his face early in the third set... how he managed to overturn that – that too at his age while also staying in a better physical condition than his opponent who was 10 years younger to him – I do not have the answer for that. But it was beautiful.
Rafa raged into the night and produced one of his greatest masterpieces.