Nadal: 'Biggest Comeback of My Career'
“If we put everything together, the scenario, the momentum, what it means…yeah, [it’s] probably the biggest comeback of my tennis career,” said the Spaniard in his post-match press conference.
The sixth seed rallied from two-sets-to-love down to seal an epic 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory on Rod Laver Arena and become the first man to 21 Grand Slam singles titles.
“At the end history is about the victory, but the way that you win the match in terms of personal feelings is different,” Nadal said. “The way that I achieved this trophy tonight was just unforgettable, one of the most emotional matches of my tennis career, without a doubt. [It] means a lot to me.”
Despite being 0/40 down on his own serve with the Russian up two sets and leading 3-2 in the third set, Nadal said he had nonetheless retained a semblance of belief that he could stay in contention with Medvedev.
“In that moment, of course, the situation was critical,” said Nadal, “but sport is unpredictable. The normal thing is to lose the match in straight sets from that situation. On the other hand, I had a big chance in the second [set] too.
“I was repeating to myself during the whole match, I lost a lot of times here [in Melbourne] having chances, sometimes I was a little bit unlucky. I just wanted to keep believing until the end. I just wanted to give myself a chance.
“That's what I did. Just fight, just keep belief in trying to find a solution. Of course, I was lucky to save that moment. [There were] a lot of moments that can decide the final like this.”
The Spaniard was also full of praise for Medvedev, who won his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open in September. “I think Daniil is a great champion,” said Nadal. “He accepted the loss very well and I can say thanks because it’s a very hard night for him. I know how tough it is to be in that position.”
Nadal acknowledged the significance of winning his 21st Grand Slam title but insisted his title in Melbourne will not suddenly make him view his own career any differently. “It's amazing to achieve another Grand Slam at this moment of my career,” said the Spaniard. “Of course, I know it's a special number, 21. I know what it means, but from my point of view today is an unforgettable day…I feel lucky to achieve one more very special thing in my tennis career.
“I really believe that I hold a very positive spirit. For the last six months, I really fought a lot to try to be back on court…[There] have been very tough moments because you don't know if you’re going to have the chance. I feel honoured.”
It’s been a long journey since a 19-year-old Nadal picked up his first major crown at Roland Garros back in 2005, and he also admitted the feelings around his major victories had changed with age.
“[Today was] more emotional than the first one, no doubt about that,” said Nadal. “At the latter stages of your career, I think you enjoy these moments more because you know the chances are less. When you are 19 of course it is super special, but you know if you are playing well, you're going to keep having chances to enjoy [such] moments.”