WATCH: Rafael Nadal’s memorable ’21’ journey, from 2005 French Open to 2022 Australian Open

Rafael Nadal

Walking down memory lane, from the 2005 French Open to 2022 Australian Open, the ATP paid tribute to Rafael Nadal after he clinched his 21st Grand Slam title.

The Spaniard won an intense match against Daniil Medvedev that lasted over five hours at Melbourne Park to win a second Australian Open title.

The world No 5 was the last man standing on Rod Laver Arena where he delivered the latest remarkable comeback of his career, beating Medvedev 2-6, 6-7, (7-5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. With the win, Nadal broke away and took the lead with the most Grand Slams titles, 21, over his long-time rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

It felt like yesterday when the then 19-year-old reached the final of the 2005 Miami Masters, and was defeated in five sets by Federer. A performance that was considered as a breakthrough for Nadal.

Barely a few months later, the then-rising star Nadal beat Mariano Puerta in the French Open final, becoming the second male player, after Mats Wilander in 1982, to win the French Open on his first attempt.

That memory was part of a tribute video from the ATP after his latest success.

Of course some of his other highlights include the 2008 Wimbledon title – his first Grand Slam outside of Roland Garros – when he beat Federer in a five-set epic at SW19 while the following year he won his maiden Australian Open crown.

Nadal’s first US Open trophy came in 2010 when he beat Djokovic in four sets in Flushing Meadow.

Fast forward 17 years later, the 35-year-old did not have it easy in the past few years of his career as he has been battling with injuries.

Although he was seen as one of the pre-tournament favourites at the 2022 Australian Open, there were doubts over his participation due to some of the long-standing injuries he had been battling. In 2021, the 21st Grand Slam champion revealed he might never play tennis again as he dealt with a persistent foot injury.

Nadal withdrew from the US Open citing a chronic foot injury, he then took a rest for the rest of the season off in order to recover ahead of 2022.

And this campaign got off to a fine start as he won his second Australian Open title for that record-breaking 21st Grand Slam.

Sunday’s Australian Open title leaves Nadal’s tally as follows:

  • 2 Australian Open titles (2009, 2022)
  • 13 French Open titles (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
  • 2 Wimbledon titles (2008, 2010)
  • 4 US Open titles (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019)
  • Tennis experts have now called the Spaniard the greatest of all time however, the race is still wide open on who will finish top.