The statistics that defined 2022

We have counted him many times before. Rafael Nadal currently tops the men’s singles Grand Slam title list 22 times, but he won’t die past 35 (or even 30, depending on who you ask). It was not expected.

One of the most relentless physical powerhouses in the history of the sport, the Spaniard had an all too demanding game style. Over the years, the general consensus was that his body would prove too fragile to withstand the extreme pressures put upon him as he entered his mid-thirties.

That theory was proven false again in 2022. Nadal won his two major titles, proving to the world that even for him, his age is just a number.

Australian Open Men’s Final between Rafael Nadal (Esp) and Daniil Medvedev || 219552_0071

glorious beginning

Nadal’s 2021 was cut short by a foot injury, and his last match was in Washington, D.C., in August, long before the US Open. The King of Clay suffered Covid in his December, making 2022 even less likely to get the best start to his season. .

Nadal remains a question mark entering 2022, but by March the Spaniard showed he still had plenty of control over his legendary game and body. It all started innocently enough – he won 6-2, 7-5 in the opening match of the season against Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania.

Nadal didn’t exactly show confidence after the win, it was something of a relief.

“Rather than winning or losing, I’m back on the Pro Tour playing a professional match for the first time in five or six months. It feels good, I’m happy, and it gives me the chance to play again tomorrow, so of course the win is important.

A few days later, Nadal lifted the trophy at the 250 event in Melbourne, defeating Maxim Cressey in the final. Something was building…but I wasn’t quite sure what what.

© Sydney Law/CSM/Shutterstock

His 21st major title and second in Australia

After winning three consecutive Australian Opens, Nadal had new confidence in his game and fitness. He survived a draw in Melbourne (with Novak Djokovic conspicuously absent), Karen Khachanov (4 sets), Denis Shapovalov (5 sets), Matteo Berrettini (4 sets) and, surprisingly, two sets down to Daniil. Defeat Medvedev. to win the final.

Returning from the brink with Medvedev, Nadal became the first player since Roy Emerson in 1965 to win an Australian Open final from two set downs. , and the second time in Australia.

“I kept telling myself the whole game, I missed many chances here, sometimes I was a little unlucky,” Nadal said after the final. “Didn’t you just want to believe until the end?”

Extend your winning streak to 20

Nadal continued his enthusiasm for Acapulco, beating Medvedev again in the semifinals before defeating Cameron Norrie to win the title, extending his winning streak to 15 without dropping a set.

A few weeks later at Indian Wells, Nadal extended his winning streak to 20 with five more wins, including dramatic wins over Sebastian Korda, Nick Kyrgios and Carlos Alcaraz. His career (his career-best winning streak was 32, achieved in 2008) reached a record of 20-0, starting the season for the first time in his career and becoming the first of the ATP Open era to reach a record of 20-0. started his third season in history.

Only Novak Djokovic, who started 2011 41-0 and 26-0 in 2020, has done better.

Playing with a cracked rib in the final, Nadal got off to the best start of the season, losing to Taylor Fritz. Despite the loss, Nadal’s ability to overcome the injury woes that ended the 2021 season was the most spectacular start to the season in his legendary career, showing what we already knew. It reminded me.

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