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Australian Open: Nadal gets one over Medvedev and Djokovic


Given he’d already won 20, one might have expected a low-key reaction to Rafa Nadal’s latest major title. But no. It’s been the most wildly celebrated of the lot. And not just because it has come after a decent wait for his next Grand Slam victory - a wait which, at his age, we feared might become permanent. Clearly that’s a significant factor, but it's not the only reason. And, although it’s also a big deal, it’s not just because Nadal's 21st major makes him the most successful men’s player of all time, having won all four of the Grand Slam tournaments at least twice. The best ever on clay, and damn good on every other surface.

No, the response to Nadal's win is also because he has got one over both Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic. The latter, a great tennis player but a strange chap, was at the centre of the prologue to this Australian Open, amid his attempts to play without being vaccinated, having told the odd porky at the airport. Because of the legal checks and balances of the civilised world, his battle to stay in Australia lasted for days, but finally came up against a brick wall of common sense. He has chosen to champion a controversial cause; who knows how far he’ll take his beliefs. Opposite that, Nadal is among the overwhelming majority who, with no clear reason not to, just get on with it.

I wouldn't have liked a Medvedev win one bit

Medvedev, the other man topped by Nadal, really is a remarkably stroppy young lad. He’s an excellent player, but his repeated misbehaviour has no place in sport. I don’t know whether he simply has the temperament of a spoilt brat, or whether he has made the clearly misguided decision to cultivate an on-court persona. At a time when Putin is busy escalating tensions, I wouldn’t have been pleased at all to see a Medvedev triumph. It may not have reached the levels of that Fischer-Spassky chess match during the Cold War, but what I will say is that Nadal’s win over the Russian is a victory for sport as something that exalts humankind. It was an important win for so many reasons.