Rafa Nadal is closer than ever to becoming, at least for now, the best tennis player of all time in terms of Grand Slam titles. The Spaniard plays the final of the Australian Open this Sunday (9:30, Eurosport) against Daniil Medvedev, runner-up last year, and if he wins he will add 21, one more than Federer and Djokovic, who did not play the tournament for different reasons. The Swiss, because he is still recovering from a double knee operation and the Serbian, because he was deported the day before the competition began after the Aussie government canceled his visa for the second time, alleging that it could promote the anti-vaccination movement.
The Spaniard would be fourth on the global list, behind Margaret Court (24), Serena Williams (23) and Steffi Graf (22). He would also be the second man to win at least twice each Slam after Djokovic achieved it by winning Roland Garros 2021. Previously, the locals Roy Emerson and Rod Laver had achieved it. This will be Nadal’s sixth final in the Australian Open (29th in a major in 63 participations), a tournament that despite having won it only once, he is good at in terms of victories. With the one in the semifinals against Berrettini, he adds 75. That was his 500th hard court win as well. Round numbers like the total titles he would reach if he beats Medvedev: 90.
“It makes me happy to be part of this incredible era of tennis, sharing all these things with two other players (Federer and Djokovic). Somehow, it doesn’t matter if someone achieves one more or one less. I think we did, all of us, incredible things and things that will be very difficult to match, but I don’t think much about this, all these things,” Rafa said on Friday when asked about the famous number 21, a goal that at that time he curiously saw “far away”.
To achieve this, he must win Medvedev for the fourth time in five matches. And you already know what it’s like to beat him in a final, he did it in an agonizing way at the 2019 US Open, when the Russian, who is now 25 years old, was about to come back two sets. “He’s one of the best players in the world. If I’m not able to play at my best level, the highest, I simply won’t have a chance,” explained the man from Manaco. The Muscovite can also make history, since if he becomes champion in his fourth Slam final, he would be the first in the Open Era (since 1968) to win his first two titles consecutively and the sixth to chain US Open and Australia after Rosewall , Sampras, Agassi, Federer and Djokovic.
“I don’t know if I should call him that, but he’s like a perfect guy,” says Medvedev about Nadal’s behavior on court, far removed from his own, as was seen in the semi-final against Tsitsipas, when he called, among other things, stupid, the Spanish chair umpire Jaume Campistol. “The match will be physical. Rafa likes to drag people into long exchanges and so do I. I’m going to try to be more ready than in the final last year, more focused, fight more and give everything I have. the first to the last point is going to give the best of himself, and that is what I am going to try to do too”, predicts the number two in the world, who is very close to number one (he would assure it if he wins) and does not hide his admiration for the Big Three, who somehow play this match ‘completely’: “When I was like eight, ten years old, I played against the wall and I imagined that Rafa was on the other side or Roger. Novak still hadn’t played, I think” . Today he will face the Balearic, in flesh and blood, and with sharp fangs.
Australian Open Men’s Draw.