Australian Open 2022: Nadal: “It’s my most unexpected victory” | sports

Always applied, Rafael Nadal headed to the dressing room tunnel as soon as the final ceremony was over to go surrounded by his team to the recovery room installed in the bowels of the Rod Laver Arena. Once there, he collapsed exhausted on a mat and joked with his physio, Rafael Maymò, titin for the champion. Then, he got on a stationary bike and began to pedal in a relaxed way to release the muscle and joint stress that had accumulated in his legs after more than five hours of beating the Australian central defender.

At that moment, the legendary Rod Laver entered the room – 11 greats, the great male eminence of local tennis – and Nadal interrupted the march to thank him for the congratulations. Afterwards, he ate some food to replenish his strength and went to the conference room, where he transmitted the same prudent message of the previous days, but seasoned the speech with a melancholy tone. Nadal, the only player along with Novak Djokovic who has conquered each of the big four in the Open Era (since 1968) on more than one occasion, expressed emotion, as if he were in a cloud.

“It has been my most unexpected and surprising triumph, that’s for sure,” he reasoned. “Because of how I got here, because of the whole process [casi medio año sin competir por una lesión crónica en el pie izquierdo y contagiado por el coronavirus semana y media antes de volar a Australia], for how it was tonight and for everything I’ve felt thanks to the public. It has been an incredible night. If we put it all together, both the moment of my career and the stage, it will surely be my most important comeback. What I have experienced has been hard and painful”, added the 35-year-old man from Manacor, to whom the present insists on taking the opposite, already becoming the most successful tennis player of all time ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic , both absent in Melbourne.

“I’m not going to change my point of view on that,” he insisted. “I just know that I feel very lucky to be here and to be able to do what I like. I don’t really care if I’m the best in history or not. I have said it during these days and I continue to say it now too: one cannot always be looking to one side, to see if his neighbor has a bigger house or a better mobile”, he indicated; “Of course I would like to finish my career being the one with the most Grand Slams, that is my goal, but for me it has never been an obsession”.

Nadal valued the trophy won, obtained in a territory where he has historically suffered major setbacks. He triumphed in 2009, but then came the troubles of 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019. When the last one yielded break before Medvedev, the ghosts appeared, but he cleared them with rackets. He had already given up two finals in a similar circumstance, against Federer and Djokovic, break up in the final set. “It is one of the most exciting matches of my career, without a doubt”, he added, after 5h 24, which is the second longest match of his career after the pulse he had with the Serbian in the outcome of 2012 in Melbourne; then, 5h 53, the end of a important longest in history.

“I had lost several times here, having opportunities. What he couldn’t do was not fight. I’ve kept a cool head and the right attitude,” he recalled. “The truth is that physically, I wasn’t prepared for something like that,” he admitted, “and now I’m super, super tired, but it was the day I had to give it my all. I have enjoyed the fight, this victory means everything to me. I couldn’t even celebrate it, I’m knackered. I don’t even know how I celebrated it, I don’t remember…”.

Asked about the ingredients of this latest success, of this latest rebirth, he listed: “Love for the game, passion and spirit of work.” And he highlighted having achieved it in this phase of his career, which for many already painted twilight. “I have maintained my passion, which is not easy at this point and even more so after everything I have been through. I have always maintained the illusion of coming back, and that illusion has taken me here”, he continued; “When you are 19 years old you can have more possibilities ahead of you, but at my age you don’t know what can happen, so personal satisfaction is higher”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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