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Nadal comes from two sets down to make history with record 21st Slam

Rafael Nadal roared back from two sets down to win a titanic five-set duel with Daniil Medvedev and claim a record 21st Grand Slam men's title in the Australian Open final on Sunday.

rafa nadal wins australian open
The final went down to the bitter end with Nadal being broken as he served for the championship only for the Spaniard to break back.Photo: William WEST/AFP

The Spanish great looked dead and buried as the Russian world number two carved out a two-set lead but Nadal surged home for one of his mightiest comeback wins 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in 5hr 24min on Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal came out on top in the physical war of attrition to move ahead of era rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on the all-time list of men’s major winners.

Djokovic missed his chance to improve on his nine Australian Open wins when he was deported over vaccination issues on the eve of the tournament, while Federer is injured.

It was one of the 35-year-old Spanish warrior’s greatest title victories in his 29th Grand Slam final winning his second Australian Open, 13 years after his first in 2009.

Nadal also became only the fourth man to win each of the four Grand Slams twice and the third oldest man in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title, behind Ken Rosewall and Federer.

The final went down to the bitter end with Nadal being broken as he served for the championship only for the Spaniard to break back.

On his second attempt to serve it out, Nadal powered to three match points to win amid chaotic scenes in his player’s box and the frenzied crowd.

It is the fourth time in his storied career that Nadal had clawed back to win from two sets down and the second time Nadal had denied Medvedev in a Grand Slam final, winning a five-set epic at the 2019 US Open.

It crowned an extraordinary effort from Nadal at the year’s opening major, having to modify his game to compensate for a degenerative bone disease in his left foot that ended his 2021 season last August.

He then caught Covid in December which, he said, made him “very sick”.

Medvedev had wrecked Djokovic’s calendar Grand Slam push and bid for a 21st title in New York four months ago and was aiming to do the same to Nadal in Melbourne.

Medvedev lost his second consecutive Australian Open final after falling in straight sets to Djokovic in last year’s final.

Nadal now leads Medvedev 4-1, with the Russian also losing to the Spanish lefty in his first major final at the 2019 US Open over five sets.

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SPORT

Barcelona makes sailing history after being named America’s Cup host

Barcelona will become the first venue to stage an Olympic Games (1992) and an America's Cup after it was awarded the hosting of the latter for the 2024 edition on Tuesday.

Barcelona makes sailing history after being named America's Cup host

As reigning champions, Team New Zealand had the right to decide the host city and chose Barcelona.

A statement on the official America’s Cup website described Barcelona as having “world class facilities” for racing, “as well as an average wind range of 9 to 15 knots during the September and October race window”, which makes the city “completely fit for purpose”.

Team New Zealand defended the Auld Mug last year after beating the Italian team, Luna Rossa.

Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton said: “Barcelona really is one of the most recognised cities in the world so to have the ability to host the most recognised sailing event in the world is hugely exciting.”

“When thinking ahead to the 37th America’s Cup and the AC75’s racing within a few hundred metres of the Barcelona beach, waterfront, and race village fan engagement zones it will be nothing less than spectacular,” Dalton added.

Barcelona beat Malaga and Jeddah in the bidding and takes over from Auckland as host.

The America’s Cup was first contested in 1851 and claims to be the oldest competition in international sport.

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau said: “This should serve to promote the city to the world after the pandemic, to benefit Barcelona‚Äôs tradition of this sport in a city by the sea and in addition, to boost the emerging sector of innovation and technology, linked to nautical activities.”

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