Rafael Nadal is the Australian Open Winner for 2021.
Rafael Nadal: 2 6 6 6 7
Daniil Medvedev: 6 7 4 4 5
There was no Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, but we still got a classic finish to the tournament.
Russian Daniil Medvedev took a two set lead early over Spaniard Rafael Nadal. He won the first set convincingly, 6-2 before nipping past Nadal in the second 7-6. Nadal broke back in the third winning 6-4 and in the fourth by the same margin.
Nadal struggled early on during the match primarily because of his service. He wasn't getting enough first serves in and they weren't as effective as he'd have liked when he did. The turnaround coincided with the effectiveness of his first serve and renewed power he showed in his ground strokes.
At this stage of his career, Nadal would have been forgiven for fading away when he rose to the moment.
The older man forced Medvedev to cover the whole court, repeatedly turning to drop shots after driving him backwards off the base line. It was a strategy that slowed his opponent down, despite him also hitting some outstanding winners at the net.
Medvedev beat Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the final. Tsitsipas was his semi-final opponent whereas he beat the (in)famous Kyrgios in the early rounds. Nadal overcome the 28th seed Karen Khachanov of Russia, 14th seed Denis Shapovalov and seventh seed Mateo Berrettini in the semi final.
Nadal won the final as the sixth seed. Medvedev entered the tournament as the second seed. But Medvedev was effectively the number one seed without Djokovic. Nadal overcame the man who beat Alexander Zverev who was the third seed in the tournament.
At 35 years of age, this is Nadal's 21st major victory. It is only his second time winning the Australian Open after first winning it in 2009. Only Ivan Lendl, Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors have won more titles than Nadal's 90.
Nadal is a crowd favourite and received applause with every winning point.
Medvedev on the other hand has generally been a villain of the sport. He reiterated his place with the locals by abusing an official during his semi-final that proceeded the final. Medvedev was fined $17,000 for the incident. The whole outburst was captured on video.
The next major tennis tournament will be the French Open in May. Nadal has won 13 French Open titles in his career. He was the winner in 2020, but Djokovic won in 2021. As things currently stand, Djokovic is unlikely to compete so Nadal will like his chances.