How Nadal Changed The Complexion Of 2022 Australian Open?

“The most unexpected, without a doubt. And most surprising, I think, for everyone. … For me personally, especially, no? Because I know how I arrived here.” The statement from none other than the Goat of tennis, Rafael Nadal clearly emphasised his predicament prior to the Australian Open. However, on 30th Jan 2022 at the Rod Laver Arena, the Spaniard proved yet again that champions are not made in a day as years of toil, sweat, blood and humongous challenges turn players into champs. The Oz Open final stands testimony to the same. Consequently, Rafael Nadal, right now, is in possession of the maximum number of Slams and the envious record of winning all the 4 Grand Slams twice. 

The Australian Open did not begin on an auspicious note for the players as well as the fans. The tournament was mostly in news for reasons other than the sport itself. Finally, when the event kicked off after the initial dust settled down, not many, including the die-hard supporters, gave the Spaniard a serious chance to pull off anything spectacular at this year’s event in Australia. 

There were reasons for the same also as Nadal was coming into the tournament after a long layoff due to a career-threatening injury: degenerative bone disease in the left foot. Since Roland Garros last year he has been part of precious little. Hence, all the conversations and eyes, this time, were centred around promising talents from the new generation: Danil Medvedev, Stefano Tsitsipas etc in the absence of the other two stalwarts. 

Occasionally, the noises used to touch upon the seasoned Englishman Andy Murray as well. Nadal was never considered a serious threat in the current edition. But that is what separates immortals from lesser mortals, men from boys, to perform when odds are stacked heavily against a particular individual and that’s exactly what the Spaniard did yesterday at the famous Melbourne Park. 

Nadal is at least a decade apart from Medvedev in terms of age difference however, when it mattered the most the Spaniard outclassed his Russian counterpart, Medvedev, through his age-defying stamina and agility. It is not very often one sees an injury-scarred veteran staging a great fightback to take the match by the scruff of the neck after being two sets down initially. That is the hallmark of being Nadal. 

During his magnificent career, Nadal has weathered several dangerous storms and his body would have got exhausted by now, thanks to the recurrence of these injuries in the last 19 years. But Nadal is certainly not the one to give up, and yesterday he made it very clear that the setbacks over the years might have tested him to the hilt, but he is not yet out by any stretch of the imagination. 

The 2022 Australian Open was dubbed as insipid and bland by many sans Djokovic, Federer and the Nadal in full flow. However, Nadal eventually made the naysayers eat the humble pie. In the end, we can only thank the Spaniard for saving a tournament from turning into an ordinary one by sending the rapturous crowd at Melbourne Park into a tizzy via winning the Australia Open after a gap of 13 years. Now, the question is: how long will he continue in active tennis? 

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