Rafael Nadal claimed two Australian Open titles in 2009 and 2022. The Spaniard lost four Melbourne finals in between, including an epic one against Novak Djokovic in 2012. The two legends battled for five hours and 53 minutes before Novak came out on top.
5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 and 7-5, lifting the trophy in the longest Major final in history. Nadal and Casper Ruud are in Buenos Aires, starting their South American tour. The young Norwegian spoke about the 2012 Australian Open final, saying that he was probably more broken than Rafa when the Spaniard lost, sitting in front of the TV for six hours.
Nadal was Ruud's idol, and he wanted to see him win the title. Rafa enjoyed this conversation and joked asking Novak Djokovic to send him the trophy. Rafa gave it his all to get past Novak in the fourth set and force a decider.
Driven by this momentum, the Spaniard forged a 4-2, 30-15 lead in the final set before missing a routine backhand that likely cost him his second Australian Open title. Djokovic created 20 break chances, converting seven and dropping serve four times.
The Serb had more winners and forced more errors, forging victory for himself in the mid-distance exchanges, as nothing could separate them in the longer, faster rallies. They needed 40 minutes to complete the first six games.
Nadal led 4-2 before Djokovic claimed the next three games to open a 5-4 gap. The Spaniard grabbed another break at 5-5 when Novak sent a backhand long and converted his third set point into his next for 7-5 after an hour and 20 minutes.
Novak responded with a break in game 10 of the second set after a costly double fault from Rafa.
Oddo comments on Nadal
Speaking on the Tennis Channel Inside-In podcast recently, sportswriter Chris Oddo reflected on Rafael Nadal's season, saying that if he can find his top fitness level in 2023, he will be the player to beat.
“We forget Rafa because not much has happened for him off-late, the injuries kind of caught up with him, he became a father, and a lot of things happened. But two Slams at the beginning of the year and I think what he proved to me and what I think is still going to be true going forward is that if Rafa can find a way to get that diesel engine going and get to peak fitness where he's comfortable with the surface, where he's going to be playing, he gets a little bit of a lead-up, his body's not giving him issues, if he peaks, he can beat anybody and do the damage.
He can do that again next year. I think it's going to be harder for him to sign that peak fitness but if he's got it and he's thriving in his body, he can be the best,”Oddo said.
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