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The Real GOAT? Rafael Nadal Eyes Staggering Records at Australian Open Final

Tennis legend Rafael Nadal (AP)

Tennis legend Rafael Nadal (AP)

Rafael Nadal has the golden opportunity to be the bigger of The Big Three and become the sole owner of the men’s all-time grand slam record, breaking his tie of 20 with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Another victory and Rafael Nadal will rewrite history. On Friday, the Spaniard outplayed Italian Matteo Berrettini in the Australian Open. This was a rare rainy day in Melbourne and the match was played under the Rod Laver Arena roof, which was closed due to rain. Nadal held off a late fightback from Berrettini to win 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and is currently on the verge of Grand Slam history. Nadal’s four-set triumph over the No. 7 seed sent him into the final of the 2022 Australian Open, his sixth.

Into his 29th major final, Nadal will compete for a record 21st grand slam title on Sunday at Melbourne Park. He will face Daniil Medvedev, the US Open champion.

Nadal has the golden opportunity to be the bigger of The Big Three and become the sole owner of the men’s all-time grand slam record. He may break his tie of 20 with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

After a career-threatening foot injury ruled Nadal out of Wimbledon and the US Open in September, he was hit by a bout of Covid. After a six-month layoff, doubts of his return to competition had been swirling.

But again Nadal is no ordinary player. The Spanish matador has efficiently adapted and produced one of his more implausible runs to a grand slam final. He was also dealing with an upset stomach in the quarter finals yet showed no ill effects from a five-set quarter final triumph over Denis Shapovalov.

Roger Federer has been the man to beat when it comes to most grand slam titles. Novak Djokovic was widely considered his most logical successor, given age advantage and lack of recurrent injuries. Djokovic won his second French Open title last year and ended up joining Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only three to have ever won a double career Grand Slam. Nadal can join that club too by winning in Melbourbne on Sunday. What’s more? Well, Federer isn’t part of this elite group. This might be an added incentive for Nadal.

Many argued that Nadal’s playing style would not be favourable to longevity in his career. Nonetheless, he is succeeding in advancing age and is now the fourth oldest man in the history of Open Era to reach the Australian Open final.

Nadal recently admitted that though he is not concerned with his GOAT status but seeks to surpass his longtime rivals Djokovic and Federer.

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first published:January 28, 2022, 18:11 IST