World No. 6 Rafael Nadal will be going for the ultimate glory on Sunday when he takes on World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the finals of the 2022 Australian Open. Nadal comes into the finals hunting for his historic 21st Grand Slam title while Medvedev is on the lookout for his second major.
Nadal’s qualification into the finals was an astonishing feat as the former World No. 1 had not played in a Grand Slam match since the 2021 French Open and was coming to play the best-of-5 matches after a spell of 7 months in which he played only 2 matches during the 2021 season and only 3 matches prior to coming to Melbourne Park in 2022.
In the Slam, he has dropped only 4 sets in the 6 matches he has played of which only one was a 5-set thriller. With many not expecting the ‘King of Clay’ to turn up in such a form at the Australian Open, Nadal has certainly silenced his critics once again and has got 6-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker absolutely livid with his performance in the last fortnight Down Under.
“What a legend of our sport. Two months ago it was uncertain whether he would be able to continue playing at all after his serious ankle operation and then he comes to Australia and plays his best tennis. I don’t think Nadal was thinking about his 21st Grand Slam title before the semi-final. He is more relaxed about it than Novak Djokovic.
“He says, ‘I’m happy that I still can play tennis and that I’m in the final in Australia.’ But that will change now. Rafa has two nights before the final and he will be thinking about the 21. However, Rafa is an absolute superstar and will be able to handle it. For me, the two best players are in the final. For Nadal, I’m happy because I’m a big fan of him and I was worried after his surgery,” said Becker speaking on Eurosport.
“Rafael Nadal always says rights things, you can’t say that about Medvedev”: Boris Becker
Becker also pointed out the off-court mannerism of Nadal that separates him from his finals opponent, Medvedev. The Russian has maintained his stance of being absolutely honest and does not shy from speaking out his mind and that includes going on a big rant against the chair umpire and calling him ‘Stupid and a small cat‘.
“But Nadal wouldn’t be Nadal if he didn’t have a chance to win every time he plays a tournament. Rafael Nadal has earned his status over the years. He says the right things even after the match. You can’t say that about Medvedev, who is very honest – that’s not always good. But Daniil also earned a few hearts here, especially with his fighting performance,” added Becker.
In what will be the repeat of the 2019 US Open finals, a thrilling encounter is expected to go down on Sunday at the Rod Laver Arena when Nadal and Medvedev will clash for the glory in Melbourne Park this year to pull the curtain down on what has indeed been a ‘Happy Slam’ since the tournament kicked off on 17th January.