Deportation drama for world number on Djokovic threatened to spoil the party on the Aussie tennis summer, but it was the tennis that came out on top in the end.
The drudgery Russian claimed the first set of the final 6-2, before going to the wire in the second, winning 7-5 in the set tiebreak. Medvedev was an immoveable object at the back of the court, whilst Nadal was being toyingly moved around the court.
Before this year, Nadal had never won an Open final being two sets down and the tennis world was shocked that he even recovered in time for the Open, having been side-lined with a chronic foot injury for six months and bedridden with Covid-19 in December. However, the Russian was at his wits end with the Australian crowd, (a recurring problem even in other matches) and the red mist was starting to descend once more as he grew tiresome with their demeaning applause for his mistakes. Medvedev exclaimed how the fans had ‘empty heads’ and even asked the umpire to announce them as ‘idiots.’
The mental struggle translated into poor shot selection, seeing Medvedev play ill-judged drop-shots to continued jeering from the crowd. Rafa battled heroically to clinch the next two sets 6-4, as he was finally snuffing out Medvedev’s service games. In his quarter-final comeback against Auger-Aliassime, Medvedev later spoke about ‘what would Djokovic do' when two sets down. The persevering strength shone bright once more through Medvedev, as the Russian broke with Nadal serving for the championship.
Nadal won the Australian Open for the second time in his life with a backhand winner and a hold to love. Faced with adversity, the most decorated slam holder showed his worth in an historic final for the sport. For a tournament clouded in controversy over the deportation of Djokovic, the final had reinvigorated the romanticism behind gruelling encounters on the main stage.
The Australian Open was filled with promise for the Brits, but any fairytale run as seen with Emma Raducanu in the US Open was not to be. Danka Kovinic surpassed an injured Emma in three sets in the second round, where Andy Murray too fell short in a straight sets loss to Taro Daniel. Joe Salisbury did, however, reach the semi-finals of the men’s doubles, before losing to the Aussie runners-up. Perhaps a tournament that won’t live long in the memory for British tennis.