Rafael Nadal set up a semi-final meeting with new world number one Daniil Medvedev after cruising past Tommy Paul 6-0 7-6 (7-5) at the Mexican Open in Acapulco on Thursday.

The Spanish fourth seed, who won last month's Australian Open against Medvedev in a five-set epic for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title, beat the American in two hours and three minutes.

Nadal was at his tenacious best early, winning the first set 6-0 for the second consecutive match, before Paul hit back in the second.

The Spaniard dropped only 10 points in the opening set with errors creeping into his game early in the second set allowing Paul to get 2-1 up a break.

The pair exchanged a string of four games against serve, with Nadal breaking again with Paul serving for the set, before triumphing in the tie-break.

Top seed Medvedev secured his spot in the last four with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.

Medvedev, who will officially become world number one for the first time in his career next week after Novak Djokovic's loss to Jiri Vesely in Dubai, brushed aside the Japanese in one hour and 10 minutes.

The Russian sent down 12 aces and won 69 per cent on his first serve, while he converted six of eight break points across the match.

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will meet Briton Cameron Norrie in the other semi-final after both triumphed on Thursday.

Tsitsipas won his quarter-final against Marcus Giron 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 17 minutes, while sixth seed Norrie made light work of Peter Gojowczyk 6-1 6-0.

At the Chile Open in Santiago, local top seed Cristian Garin was stunned by countryman Alejandro Tabilo 6-3 6-3.

Sixth seed Miomir Kecmanovic won 6-2 6-0 over Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida, while Yannick Hanfmann eased past Thiago Seyboth Wild 6-1 6-3.

Novak Djokovic has not lost any motivation for tennis, but believes he needs time to find some rhythm after a long break, as he conceded the world number one spot.

Djokovic's 86-week reign at the top of the ATP rankings will end on Monday, after the Serbian lost to qualifier Jiri Vesely 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in the Dubai Tennis Championships.

That means that Daniil Medvedev will leapfrog Djokovic regardless of whether or not he wins in Acapulco.

Using his official Twitter account, Djokovic congratulated both Vesely – who won his only previous meeting with the 20-time grand slam champion back in 2016 – and Medvedev.

"Well played @jiri_vesely, that was a great game. Wish you the best of luck for the rest of the tournament," Djokovic wrote, accompanying his post with a thumbs up emoji.

"Congratulations also to a very deserving @DaniilMedwed, who will now become world number one."

His appearance in Dubai was Djokovic's first competitive action of 2022, after he was unable to feature at the Australian Open due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

While suggesting he is still working his way back to full sharpness after not playing since December, Djokovic insisted he is fully motivated to carry on playing.

"My goal is to keep on playing tennis," Djokovic said in his post-match news conference.

"That's the ultimate goal. For as long as I really feel like it and as long as I can play. As long as my body allows me, as long as the circumstances in my life as well, the people that surround me [and] support me.

"I'm still motivated and I'm still p***** off when I lose a match. I care about it. I care about winning every match, as anybody else on the Tour, regardless of the age. I'm actually glad that I'm feeling a lot of emotions every single day because it means that I really want to be part of this sport, part of the Tour.

"Unfortunately, [it] wasn't my day. I congratulate Jiri. He played better. 

"The more matches I play, the more comfortable I get on the court. I need the match play. I didn't have many matches at all last few months.

"I don't look at the age really as a restricting factor for my career. I still feel great in terms of my body and the way it's holding on, the way it's recovering. It's been serving me well, so to say. That's something that obviously encourages me to keep going."

Daniil Medvedev will become the new world number one after Novak Djokovic was beaten by Jiri Vesely at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Medvedev entered this week knowing victory at the Mexican Open would see him move to the top of the ATP rankings for the first time.

But the Russian was still waiting to play his quarter-final on Thursday when his ascension was confirmed courtesy of Djokovic's last-eight defeat in Dubai.

Djokovic, a seven-time year-end number one, had led the rankings for 86 consecutive weeks, boosting his record total to 361 weeks.

In his first tournament since missing the Australian Open, however, the five-time Dubai champion struggled to match 123rd-ranked Vesely and went down 6-4 7-6 (7-4).

Djokovic might have known what to expect, having lost his only prior meeting with Vesely in Monte Carlo in 2016.

The Serbian looked like getting to grips with his opponent at the start of the second set, applying pressure, but was then broken again and had to respond strongly to reach a tie-break.

Again, Vesely led, and Djokovic's match was summed up by a double-fault immediately after winning back the mini-break, allowing the Czech to prevail.

The victor hailed the end of Djokovic's reign, saying in his on-court interview: "It's great for tennis to have somebody new as world number one again.

"We all know Novak missed the Australian Open, but he's been such a champion, as world number one for 361 weeks.

"Tennis needs new number ones, new generations coming up, so I think it's just great."

As Vesely advances, second seed Andrey Rublev will fancy his chances of a second straight ATP Tour title after his win at the Open 13 Provence.

Rublev stretched his winning streak to seven matches in coming from behind to beat Mackenzie McDonald and make the semi-finals, where he will play Hubert Hurkacz, who defeated Jannik Sinner.

Rafael Nadal sealed his 12th consecutive win of the new season after a straight sets victory over Stefan Kozlov at the Mexican Open.

Nadal's 12-0 record to begin the year is the best of his illustrious career, and he never looked in any trouble as he eased to a 6-0 6-3 win against the American to advance to the quarter-finals in Acapulco.

The Australian Open champion's next opponent will be Tommy Paul after he beat Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (8-6) 2-6 7-5.

"A little bit of a strange match," Nadal said following his win. "Kozlov has a different style than most other players, so you need to be very careful. Sometimes you are able to win points in a row, but then if you start to play at his rhythm, it's very difficult because he has great control from the baseline and he's very smart."

Number one seed Daniil Medvedev is also safely through after comfortably defeating Pablo Andujar 6-1 6-2, and he will now go up against Yoshihito Nishioka after his victory against Feliciano Lopez.

Stefanos Tsitsipas managed to finish his match against J.J. Wolf in less than 48 minutes as he romped to a 6-0 6-1 win, while his quarter-final opponent Marcos Giron had a much tougher time of it getting past eighth seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-4).

Cameron Norrie also came from a set down to beat John Isner 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-4, and the sixth seed will now face Peter Gojowczyk after the German received a walkover following his compatriot Alexander Zverev being "withdrawn" from the singles competition after attacking the umpire's chair at the end of his defeat in the doubles.

Meanwhile, in the Chile Open, second seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas beat fellow Spaniard Carlos Taberner 6-2 7-6 (7-4) and will face eighth seed Facundo Bagnis in the quarter-finals after the Argentinian secured a win against Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2.

Thiago Monteiro fought hard to get past third seed Federico Delbonis with a 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory, and will go up against seventh seed Sebastian Baez in the last eight, who defeated Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3 6-3.

Rafael Nadal equalled the best start to a season in his career after winning his first match at the Mexican Open on Tuesday.

In his first match since a record 21st grand slam title in Australia, Nadal was a comfortable 6-3 6-2 winner over Denis Kudla, dropping only four points on serve.

Nadal is now 11-0 for the season, equalling the start he made in 2014, when his winning run was ended by Stan Wawrinka in the Australian Open final.

"I think I started playing well, a good victory in straight sets. That's always very positive for the confidence," said Nadal. "I think I played a very solid match for the first day.

"Of course, there are a couple of things that I can do better, but in general terms, I played well, so I can't complain at all."

Daniil Medvedev, who had also not played since the final in Melbourne, came through a tougher contest against Benoit Paire 6-3 6-4 in his opening match in Acapulco.

Medvedev held a two-set lead and looked in control before Nadal came roaring back to claim the Australian Open title, but the Russian could claim a landmark achievement in his first tournament since that heartbreak.

Medvedev, who faces Pablo Andujar next, will become world number one if he wins in Mexico, regardless of Novak Djokovic's performances in Dubai.

"It's always not easy to come back after some rest and some time off competition," he said. "I felt like my sensations were not at the top today, but I managed to fight until the end against a very tough opponent, and I'm happy that I managed to win."

Stefanos Tsitsipas racked up the 200th win of his career, holding off Laslo Djere to win two tie-breaks. He will now face J.J. Wolf, who surprised Lorenzo Sonego by fighting back from a set down to win 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-2.

Cameron Norrie was a straight-sets winner over Daniel Altmaier, while Yoshihito Nishioka battled through against veteran Feliciano Lopez.

Tommy Paul progressed after Matteo Berrettini retired when the American was poised to tie the match at one set all. John Millman also had to call an early halt to his match with Marcos Giron after a freak accident on court in which the Australian accidentally hit a ball into his eye.

At the Chile Open, home favourite Alejandro Tabilo beat Renzo Olivo in straight sets, while fifth seed Federico Coria was earlier knocked out by Yannick Hanfmann.

Miomir Kecmanovic defeated Marco Cecchinato, while there were also wins for seeds Sebastian Baez and Facundo Bagnis.

Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner have been replaced by Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the upcoming Rotterdam Open.

World number two Medvedev lost a thrilling five-set Australian Open final to Rafael Nadal on Sunday and does not feel ready to compete in the Netherlands.

The Russian explained his decision in a statement on Thursday, while Sinner has had to pull out due to COVID-19.

"Unfortunately I will not play in Rotterdam this year," Medvedev said. 

"I just got back from Australia and am not ready to compete. Rotterdam is one of the favourite stops. I look forward to coming back in the future."

Roberto Bautista Agut and Borna Coric had already pulled out of the competition. Tournament director Richard Krajicek has confirmed that Murray and Tsonga, who won the event in 2009 and 2017 respectively, will now take part as wild cards.

Andrey Rublev is the reigning champion in Rotterdam after beating Marton Fucsovics in last year's final.

Rafael Nadal remains adamant he is not playing the numbers game as he navigates the twilight years of his career, but a record 21st grand slam title still felt "very special" to the Spaniard.

As he put it himself, what was perhaps the most unexpected major of his career was also one of the most emotional.

"That means everything for me," said Nadal, after the 35-year-old wrestled with Daniil Medvedev for five hours and 24 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, roaring back from two sets adrift to earn a 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 epic victory.

Nadal worried his career was over just a matter of weeks ago, he said, as he struggled to recover from the foot injury that has affected a large part of his career.

He abandoned a stop-start 2021 season in August, and missed Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open, leaving many to wonder if Nadal would ever be a force at the top level again.

At the age of 35, he is suddenly the man to beat again, having moved ahead of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on the list of the most successful men's singles players in grand slam history.

They both have 20, and Nadal now has 21.

Federer, who at the age of 40 is battling to return from knee trouble, hailed Nadal as "a great champion" and "an inspiration", while Djokovic saluted an "amazing achievement".

If their social media posts came through gritted teeth, both would surely appreciate the resilience of their great Spanish rival, not just in this match but across his career. In turn, Nadal says he would have no qualms finishing behind either when their final career totals are totted up.

"I don't want to change my point of view, honestly," said Nadal, who began his post-final news conference at 02:42 on Monday morning in Melbourne.

"For me it's amazing to achieve another grand slam at this moment of my career. It just means a lot to me. Of course, I know it's a special number, 21. I know what it means. It's a big significance this title."

Nadal says what matters most is the enjoyment of the big moments, rather than whether he finishes first, second or third in the private rivalry he, Federer and Djokovic have been ducking out for years.

"Today is an unforgettable day," he said. "For the last six months, I really fought a lot to try to be back on court. There have been very, very tough moments and conversations, because you don't know if I'm going to have the chance to be back on the tour.

"I feel honoured. I feel lucky to achieve one more very special thing in my tennis career. I don't care much if I am the one or not the one or the best of history, not the best of the history.

"Honestly, today I don't care much. For me, it's about enjoying nights like today. That means everything for me."

This was Nadal's second Australian Open title, a full 13 years since he beat Federer in another five-set duel.

"It is the most unexpected, without a doubt," Nadal said. "And the most surprising I think for everyone. It has been a very emotional night. Even now I am destroyed, honestly, physically."

He said he was too tried to celebrate, his body having taken a thrashing. In December, Nadal tested positive for COVID-19, adding a further complication before heading to Melbourne.

A warm-up event title put Nadal in a positive mindset heading into the Australian Open, but how the foot would hold up remained to be seen.

He said the injury is "difficult to fix, impossible really", but for now it is manageable. At one point during his recovery he said there had been "zero success" in getting to grips with the problem, saying it was "heartbreaking" at times.

"I just want to enjoy this moment," he said, back on top of the world, "and, of course, try to keep going."

Rafael Nadal was on the brink of another Australian Open final defeat before a remarkable turnaround against Daniil Medvedev.

Trailing by two sets to love, Nadal found himself staring at three break points midway through the third set on Rod Laver Arena.

But he recovered and stepped up his game, clinching a record-breaking 21st grand slam title with a 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 victory over Medvedev in an enthralling encounter that lasted five hours and 24 minutes.

Medvedev had his chances, but the US Open champion suffered his third defeat in four major finals.

Stats Perform looks at some of the key moments.

Nadal serving at 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 2-3

Medvedev looked on his way to a deserved and resounding win when Nadal – who had lost four Australian Open finals previously – found himself in a 0-40 hole.

But a drop shot winner from Nadal was followed by a long Medvedev backhand, with the Russian trying a drop shot that the Spaniard returned too well on his final break point chance. It would prove a decisive hold for Nadal.

"Yeah, that was a good moment when I had the triple break point," Medvedev said afterwards. "Actually, I don't remember all of them in detail, but I remember that all of three returns I made it in. I just got a little bit tight. But, again, that's tennis. I should have done better. I should have hit a winner. I maybe would have won the match.

"Tactically nothing changed. I feel like I was playing right. But Rafa stepped up. The only thing that physically was a little bit up and down, and yeah, he was I think stronger than me physically today. Starting from the third set, there were some shots and points where I was a little bit on the back foot, let's call it like this. And Rafa takes control of these moments.

"But again, yeah, I have to work harder."

Medvedev serving at 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 4-4

The vocal and enthusiastic crowd was beginning to impact Medvedev, and Nadal's level was improving.

A long forehand at 15-15 was followed by an inexplicable overhead drop shot attempt by Medvedev that hit the net, leading to sarcastic clapping of the crowd.

Nadal clinched the break with a wonderful backhand winner down the line.

Medvedev serving at 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 2-2

Medvedev had already recovered from being a break down in the fourth set when Nadal struck again after a lengthy fifth game.

An excellent return saw Medvedev net a backhand and Nadal converted his seventh break point of the game with a backhand cross-court passing shot winner.

Medvedev serving at 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 4-6 5-5

Medvedev had stopped Nadal's momentum in the previous game when the Spaniard was attempting to serve out the match.

But Nadal broke again when Medvedev pulled a backhand wide before sending a forehand long.

Nadal serving at 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 6-5

Nadal was never going to let a second chance go begging.

Medvedev put a running forehand into the net and a backhand return long before an ace from Nadal set up three championship points.

He only needed one, making a backhand volley to become the first player in the Open Era to win an Australian Open final from two sets to love down.

Daniil Medvedev revealed defeat to record-breaker Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final had crushed his tennis dreams, accusing the Melbourne crowd of being "disrespectful" and claiming he gets rough treatment because he is Russian.

After delivering an unexpected monologue at the beginning of his post-match news conference, that Medvedev described as the "story of a young kid who dreamed about big things in tennis", the 25-year-old questioned whether he would feel wanted enough to play on beyond the age of 30.

He spoke of various highs and lows in the early years of his career, before making it clear he included his fourth grand slam final appearance on Sunday in the list of letdowns, but not purely because of the result.

"I'm talking about a few moments where the kid stopped dreaming, and today was one of them, and I'm not going to really tell why," Medvedev said.

"So from today I'm playing for myself, for my family, to provide my family, for people that trust in me; of course for all the Russians, because I feel a lot of support there.

"If there is a tournament on hardcourts in Moscow before Roland Garros or Wimbledon, I'm going to go there even if I miss Wimbledon or Roland Garros or whatever.

"The kid's stopped dreaming, the kid's going to play for himself, and that's it, that's my story, thanks for listening guys."

Despite saying he would not discuss his initial statement, he was easily persuaded to expand on his points.

Medvedev said Nadal, who came from two sets down to beat the US Open champion, had been "unreal", as the Spaniard won a 21st grand slam title, moving ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. And Medvedev also said he had no major regrets about his own performance, although he must wonder how he failed to close this one out.

He then expanded on his gripe by confirming it was the crowd's response to him that had left him upset and disenchanted, saying almost all the support was behind Nadal.

"Before Rafa serves even in the fifth set, there would be somebody, and I would even be surprised, like one guy screaming, 'C'mon, Daniil'. A thousand people would be like, 'Tsss, tsss, tsss'. That sound. Before my serve, I didn't hear it," Medvedev said.

"It's disappointing. It's disrespectful, it's disappointing. I'm not sure after 30 years I'm going to want to play tennis.

"It depends what people around me are going to tell me, but the kid that truly was dreaming is not any more in me after today. It will be tougher to continue tennis when it's like this."

He spoke about facing the 'Big Three' – Djokovic, Federer and Nadal – during recent seasons.

"Every time I stepped on the court in these big matches, I really didn't see much people who wanted me to win," he said. "It's cumulative, but today was like the top of the mountain.

"I think nationality plays a key. I can definitely see when you are playing somebody from the other country, they would go for them and not for the Russian or something like this."

Rafael Nadal made history by clinching a record-breaking 21st grand slam title with an extraordinary win in the Australian Open final.

The Spaniard became the first man to win 21 majors, breaking his tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Nadal edged Daniil Medvedev 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 in an incredible final that lasted nearly five and a half hours on Rod Laver Arena.

We take a look at each of Nadal's grand slam successes.

2005 French Open
Nadal's maiden major was largely unsurprising. Then 18, Nadal carried a 17-match winning streak to Roland Garros. Ranked fifth in the world after starting the year outside the top 50, Nadal beat Federer in the semi-finals before getting past Mariano Puerta in the decider. He became the first man to win the tournament on debut since Mats Wilander in 1982.

2006 French Open
That would be the start of an almost unstoppable run in Paris. Lleyton Hewitt and a young Djokovic were unable to halt his run in 2006 before he again overcame Federer, this time in the final, after dropping the first set. It was the Swiss great's first loss in a grand slam decider.

2007 French Open
Federer's win over Nadal in the final in Hamburg heading into the French Open gave the Swiss hope after ending the Spaniard's 81-match winning streak on clay. But after beating Hewitt, Carlos Moya and Djokovic on his way to the decider, Nadal again proved too good for Federer in four sets.

2008 French Open
Nadal made it four in a row in 2008 in ruthless fashion. He lost just 25 games on his way to the semis before beating Djokovic. Federer again stood between him and the title, and the Spaniard handed his great rival a 6-1 6-3 6-0 thrashing.

2008 Wimbledon
The next meeting between the greats would prove far closer, far more entertaining and land Nadal his first grand slam title away from Roland Garros. After an epic lasting almost five hours, Nadal edged Federer 9-7 in the fifth set on Centre Court to win the Wimbledon final in near darkness.

2009 Australian Open
Having risen to world number one for the first time in his career in August of the previous year, Nadal celebrated the top ranking by winning his first hard-court major. After a comfortable run to the last four, he edged Fernando Verdasco in an epic semi-final that lasted five hours, 14 minutes. Another four-plus hours and five sets were needed to get past Federer in the decider.

2010 French Open
Nadal suffered a first ever loss at Roland Garros the year prior, going down to Robin Soderling in the fourth round. But he reclaimed the title in 2010, beating Soderling in straight sets in the final. He did not drop a set on his way to the crown.

2010 Wimbledon
It would be a memorable 2010 for Nadal, who would win three majors in a single year for the only time in his career so far. His biggest test at the All England Club came from Philipp Petzschner in a five-setter in the third round before wins over Soderling, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych from the quarter-finals onwards.

2010 US Open
Nadal had never been beyond the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows before his first success in New York in 2010. It was a comfortable run before a four-set victory over Djokovic in the final completed his career Grand Slam.

2011 French Open
Djokovic was too good for Nadal in the Rome final before the French Open, but the Serbian fell to Federer in the semi-finals in Paris. Nadal survived a surprise five-set battle against John Isner in the first round before again beating Federer in the decider.

2012 French Open
Nadal had lost three consecutive major finals – all to Djokovic – before he turned that around at Roland Garros. After a comfortable run to the decider, he needed four sets to get past the Serbian for his record seventh French Open crown.

2013 French Open
Nadal and Djokovic met in a Paris epic the following year, this time in the semi-finals. Nadal edged a classic encounter 9-7 in the fifth before cruising past countryman David Ferrer in the decider.

2013 US Open
Djokovic would get his chance on his preferred surface in New York later that year, but Nadal proved too strong in four sets in the decider. Nadal dropped just two sets on his way to the title.

2014 French Open
Djokovic had again beaten Nadal in the Rome final, but again was unable to stop the Spaniard in Paris. Nadal was untroubled on his way to the decider before recovering from a set down in the final to again beat Djokovic. The 14th grand slam of his career saw him draw level with Pete Sampras on the all-time list.

2017 French Open
After going two years without a grand slam title, Nadal ended his 'drought' in Paris in 2017, claiming 'La Decima'. He did so without dropping a set, rushing past Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka in his final two matches. Nadal became the first man to win a single grand slam 10 times – and he remains the only one to manage that feat.

2017 US Open
More success would follow in New York in what was arguably one of the easiest runs to a major crown of Nadal's career. The highest ranked player Nadal faced was world number 28 Juan Martin del Potro in the semis before cruising past Kevin Anderson in the decider.

2018 French Open
Nadal was at it again in Paris the following year. He lost a set to Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals but was otherwise relentless on his way to an 11th Roland Garros crown.

2019 French Open
Nadal was developing a new rivalry at the French Open, but it was not one to stop his success. He was again ruthless on his way to the final and for the second year in a row was too good for Thiem in the final.

2019 US Open
His run in New York was again comfortable, at least until he reached the final. Medvedev put up a huge fight in the decider, which eventually went Nadal's way after almost five hours on Arthur Ashe Stadium, as he closed to within one of Federer's 20 grand slams.

2020 French Open
Another year, another French Open title for Nadal. There was again no stopping the Spaniard as he romped through without losing a set, including demolishing Djokovic in the final.

2022 Australian Open
Nadal became the first man to win 21 grand slam titles with the unlikeliest of major crowns. Just months earlier, he had doubts over his career due to a foot injury. After reaching the final, a five-set quarter-final win over Denis Shapovalov his biggest test, Nadal produced an extraordinary comeback. After nearly five and a half hours, he came from two sets to love down against Medvedev to win the decider. He became the second man in the Open Era to win every grand slam at least twice, and was the first in the same period to come from two sets to love down and win an Australian Open final.

Rafael Nadal said winning a record 21st grand slam felt "just amazing" as he staged a mesmerising comeback to beat Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final.

The 35-year-old Spaniard won 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 in five hours and 24 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, snatching victory in a match that looked Medvedev's for the taking after two sets.

In the process, Nadal went past great rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on the all-time list of men's singles grand slam winners, just months after a foot injury left him with doubts over his future in tennis.

For Medvedev this was a second successive Australian Open final defeat, having lost to Djokovic 12 months ago, and his frustration was apparent over his failure to close out the match from two sets in front.

This was Nadal's second Australian Open title and first since 2009, when he beat Federer in another five-set tussle. At the end of this match, as Nadal celebrated, the great Laver himself was captured on television footage taking a photograph of the scene.

It was 01:32 on Monday morning in Melbourne when Nadal got his hands on the trophy, and as he addressed the crowd, he began: "Good evening everybody. Well, good morning at least."

Nadal had sympathy for Medvedev, describing the Russian as "an amazing champion". Reflecting on his own disappointments in Melbourne, where he has lost four finals, Nadal said: "I don't have any doubt you'll have this trophy a couple of times in your career because you're amazing."

Roared on by thousands of witnesses to history, Nadal told Medvedev: "It has been one of the most emotional matches of my tennis career, and to share this court with you is just an honour."

There were no tears from Nadal. He was briefly stumped for words to recognise his achievement, saying: "I even don't know what to say, guys.

"For me, it's just amazing. One month and a half ago I didn't know if I would be able to be back on the tour playing tennis again, and today I'm in front of you having this trophy with me.

"You really don't know how much I've fought to be here. Thank you so much for the love and the support. Without a doubt I am having probably one of the most emotional moments in my tennis career."

Nadal lost a five hours and 53 minutes epic against Djokovic in the 2012 Australian Open final. That remains the longest grand slam final in history, but this pushed it close.

The champion said the support he was shown in Melbourne would "stay in my heart for the rest of my life", before pointing again to his battle to get fit after the foot problem that forced him to abandon his 2021 season in August.

"One month and a half ago, I would have said maybe there is a chance that's going to be my last Australian Open," Nadal said. "But now that's plenty of energy to keep going, so thank you very much.

"I really can't explain the feelings I have right now, but I'm going to try my best to keep coming next year."

A humdinger of a final saw Medvedev force a two-set lead, only for Nadal to dramatically level the match, the 35-year-old rolling back the years.

Nadal broke early in the decider to lead 3-2 and then withstood fierce pressure from Medvedev in the next game.

It was astonishing that the Spaniard was outmanoeuvring a man 10 years his junior, and a player who beat Djokovic in straight sets in last year's US Open final.

At 5-4, Nadal had a service game to cross the winning line. Federer missed a chance to reach 21 slams when he could not take two championship points against Novak Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final, and this was a similar opportunity for Nadal.

At 30-15, he served a double fault, and Medvedev pounced on his chance, winning the next point after a fizzing forehand and smash, and the next when Nadal netted. The decider was back on serve, but Nadal was not finished, engineering three break points in the next game and jumping on the third of those, Medvedev hoisting a forehand long.

This time Nadal was not to be denied. When Medvedev could not scoop back a backhand volley, the title was Nadal's, and the broadest of smiles crossed his face.

Medvedev said defeat was "tough to take", but he added: "I want to congratulate Rafa because what he did today, I was amazed.

"I tried just to play tennis, but after the match I asked him, 'Are you tired?'.

"It was insane. I think the level was very high. You raised your level after two sets for the 21st grand slam. I thought he was going to get tried, and maybe you did just a little bit, but you're an amazing champion."

Looking at the race between Nadal, Djokovic and Federer to finish with the most slams, Medvedev said: "I think you guys have a good rivalry still. It's not over yet, but congrats."

Both men thanked tournament director Craig Tiley, who was close to the centre of the pre-tournament storm that saw Djokovic deported from Australia.

And Medvedev spared a thought for wife Daria, watching from home.

"Usually there's my wife in the [players'] box," he said, "but I think probably the TV's broken right now."

Already shaping as the unlikeliest grand slam success of his illustrious career, Rafael Nadal ensured it was just that after an extraordinary Australian Open final.

And what a time to deliver it, clinching a record-breaking 21st major title by beating Daniil Medvedev, breaking his tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the most grand slams won by a man.

Nadal himself admitted reaching the final in Melbourne was unexpected, having ended his 2021 in August and doubted his career due to a persistent foot injury.

That injury is not going away, making the success even more remarkable. After five hours and 24 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, history was made as Nadal secured a 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 victory.

From two sets to love down against a man 10 years younger, wrapping up at 01:11 local time (14:11 GMT).

 

Nadal had only won the Australian Open once before, in 2009. Now, he is the only champion to have ever come from two sets to love down to win in an Australian Open final in the Open Era.

Not only was Nadal two sets to love down, he faced 0-40 in the sixth game of the third set. He was also staring down an in-form opponent as Medvedev aimed to become the first man to follow up his maiden major title with another grand slam at his next event. But, spurred on by a vocal and enthusiastic Rod Laver Arena crowd, Nadal found a way. He found another level, as he has throughout his career. In fairness, Medvedev took his game up a level, too, at least until some madness in the ninth game of the third set.

That concentration lapse had cost him one set, and Medvedev was unable to deal with an increasingly excited – and sometimes disrespectful – crowd in the fourth, as well as a surging Nadal.

As Sunday ticked into Monday with the deciding set underway, Nadal broke the Medvedev serve with a forehand winner down the line in the fifth game. Even the best get nervous, though, and he relinquished that advantage when serving for the title. Yet like a typical champion, Nadal responded instantly, breaking again before serving it out to love.

In sets one and two, Nadal had 21 winners and 36 unforced errors, turning that into 48 and 32 respectively in the final three.

For just the third time in his illustrious career, Nadal had completed a comeback from two sets to love down at a grand slam. And he has now won every grand slam at least twice, becoming just the second man in the Open Era to manage that, alongside Djokovic.

Such a moment had seemed unlikely just months ago, when Nadal and his team had doubts over whether he would ever return to the ATP Tour due to his foot injury.

Nadal says those doubts remain, but his start to 2022 suggests he is, as ever, a contender as long as he remains on the court. However unlikely, even if looking impossible, Nadal is still capable of the absurd.

Rafael Nadal made history in stunning fashion as he came from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in the men's Australian Open final, sealing a record 21st grand slam title.

All the talk before the tournament had been about Novak Djokovic and whether the world number one would be able to compete to achieve the same feat, but it was Nadal who secured the historic victory at Rod Laver Arena, beating Medvedev 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 in a marathon five hours and 24 minutes.

It is only the second Australian Open title of Nadal's decorated career but puts him out ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer (both 20) as the man to have won the most grand slams of all time.

He had looked down and out at times in the third set but showed typical determination to get better as the match went on, while Medvedev appeared to visibly tire as he saw his lead disappear into the night sky in Melbourne.

The first set began with Medvedev asking questions of Nadal, although initially the 35-year-old had answers with some classic forehand winners.

However, the unforced errors from the Spaniard began to pile up and he was broken to love in the fifth game. From there, Medvedev dominated the remainder of the opening set, breaking again and taking it 6-2.

It did not bode well for Nadal, who had won only three of his 10 prior major finals in which the opener had gone to his opponent.

The number six seed was struggling on his first serve, getting just 54 per cent in – his next lowest in a first set in this tournament had been 66 per cent in the second round win against Yannick Hanfmann.

Nadal showed some resilience, though, and hit a sensational winner at the end of a 40-shot rally in the fourth game of the second set, in which he ultimately broke Medvedev for the first time, only to be broken back to 4-3 as those serving struggles continued.

A back-and-forth affair saw four breaks of serve and the set ended with a tie-break, which Medvedev clinched with a backhand winner down the line to leave Nadal looking down the barrel of a defeat.

However, Nadal was not going to go down without a fight and showed some of his trademark grit in the third to stay with Medvedev, who was, if anything, playing even better than in the first two sets. Nadal had to save break points in the sixth game to eventually hold serve, before breaking in the ninth and serving out to somehow get back to within a set.

The drama did not stop in the fourth as two holds of serve were followed by three straight breaks to put Nadal 3-2 ahead. Both men were forced to save multiple break points thereafter, but Nadal successfully held serve to take it 6-4 and force a decider.

Medvedev looked to be wilting and was hanging on at the start of the fifth, before some superb Nadal winners earned a break in the fifth game.

The Russian made his opponent work hard for his victory and dramatically broke back to level when Nadal was serving for the championship, only for the veteran to break straight back before finally sealing the win and his place in the history books with a backhand volley that Medvedev could not return.

 

DATA SLAM: No Melbourne misery for Nadal

Nadal also becomes the second man in the Open Era – and only fourth in history – to win each grand slam at least twice, after Djokovic, Roy Emerson and Rod Laver.

Despite still boasting an impressive overall record in grand slam finals at 20-8 going into this match, Nadal was 1-4 in Australian Open finals. He looked sure to make that 1-5 after the first two sets but showed remarkable fortitude to turn things around.

This was Medvedev's second Australian Open final defeat having lost to Djokovic last year, and his second grand slam final defeat to Nadal after losing to him at the 2019 US Open.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 69/68
Medvedev – 76/52

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 3/5
Medvedev – 23/5

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 7/22
Medvedev – 6/22

Daniil Medvedev conceded he was out of his mind when he embarked on an extraordinary rant at the chair umpire during his Australian Open win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Russian, who came from two sets down to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last round, roared into a second consecutive Melbourne final as he downed Tsitsipas in a fiery last-four showdown.

Medvedev ultimately triumphed 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 to set up a final with Rafael Nadal but it was a contest in which tempers frayed, mostly on US Open champion's side of the net.

Second seed Medvedev felt Tsitsipas' father was coaching from the sidelines and received a warning for his persistent complaining.

He stopped short of accusing Tsitsipas of cheating but explained his mindset at length in the post-match news conference.

Medvedev said: "Cheating, not at all. First of all I got broken - I got a little bit mad. I thought the referee could do a little bit better with the crowd, just to say, 'Quiet please', or something like this. 

"Didn't see him doing that often and I made a terrible double fault, got a code when I was just showing everybody that I'm cramping.

"I cannot toss the ball with my left hand because everybody's screaming, so my serve was terrible.

"To be honest, before every return his father was talking Greek. I don't know, maybe he's saying, 'Come on, come on', there is no problem.

"But then the referee, I asked him if he can talk. He said he can talk but he can't coach. Then I said, 'Do you speak Greek?' 

"If not, the guy is talking, talking, talking. I don't know what he says, but if it's a coach - I don't consider coaching as cheating but it should be a code violation. Then second one would be a bit tricky."

Medvedev branded the umpire "a small cat" in his astonishing on-court outburst.

He added: "You guys are laughing, so I think we can say it was funny, but I was definitely out of my mind. I was not controlling myself anymore about anything.

"That's actually why I'm really happy to win. Many matches like this I would go on to do mistakes - you lose your concentration with things in the heat of the moment. I'm so happy that I managed to catch it really fast."

Medvedev often feels regret after his outbursts, but concedes they sometimes give him the fuel to win.

"I regret it all the time, because I don't think it's nice." he said. "I know that every referee is trying to do their best.

"In tennis we don't fight with the fists but tennis is a fight. It's a one-on-one against another player. 

"So I'm actually really respectful to players who never, almost never show their emotions because it's tough, I can get really emotional. 

"I have been working on it. So many matches I handle it. If we look back at myself five years ago when I started playing, just started playing, there was less attention on me, but I was just insanely crazy.

"I'm working on it. Helps me to win matches, I know. So I do regret it 100 per cent, but again, in the heat of the moment, I just lost it."

Tsitsipas suggested the Russian was lacking in maturity, saying about the rant: "Well, it's for sure funny!

"It's funny. I don't pay attention to the stuff. I know players like to do this stuff to throw you off mentally. Could be maybe a tactic? It is all right, he is not the most mature person anyways."

Of the allegation he received coaching, Tsitsipas replied: "I wasn't - you saw me the other day, losing the score twice in two of my matches. I cannot hear anything when I'm playing. 

"It's impossible. Having the crowd being so loud in every single point, you have to have super hearing to be able to hear what your coach says.

"I'm used to it. They've been targeting me already a long time. The umpires are always paying attention to my box, never paying attention to the opponent's box. 

"Last thing I want is someone giving me tips and giving me advice on what I should do. I'm not the kind of person that would try and listen when out there competing, playing. In practice, maybe."

But Medvedev was reluctant to get into a war of words with Tsitsipas.

He said: "No, I don't want to get too much into this, because again, it was nothing against Stefanos, nothing during this match and I feel like I didn't talk about him. 

"I just talked about the rule, because again, I don't know what his father is saying. Maybe he's just saying, 'Let's go next point'. It's completely allowed. 

"I don't know Greek. Same about the umpire. He should just, I don't know, talk to Stefanos first maybe, [tell him to] say something to your father. 

"If my coach would be talking in French to me before every point, even I would say, 'Stop it. It's not allowed'. So it was only about this."

Tsitsipas revealed he had regularly discussed the topic with his father and ultimately believes coaching should be legalised.

He added: "My father, look, he's a person that when he gets into something when there is a lot of action, his medicine is to talk, and you can't stop it. It's something that he does from nature.

"I've tried, spent countless hours trying to figure it out with him, but it's part of him. 

"Last year I went out publicly on one of my social media platforms and said that I think coaching should be allowed, simply because coaches do it anyways. 

"Most of them get away with it, and they do it pretty smartly, I can tell you."

Daniil Medvedev described the three-man battle for grand slam history as "their thing, not mine" as he set his sights on denying Rafael Nadal a 21st major in Sunday's Australian Open final.

Russian Medvedev is the 6ft 6in obstacle blocking the route to history once again, just as he was at the US Open last September when he prevented Novak Djokovic becoming the first man to 21 and crushed the Serbian's hope of a first calendar sweep of the men's singles slams since Rod Laver's 1969 feat.

At the age of 25, Medvedev is 10 years Nadal's junior, and he has an awful long way to go before he is revered to the same degree as the 'Big Three' of Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer.

But Medvedev is asserting himself as the leader of the pack that will drive the men's game forward over the next decade, and he will be fancied by many to topple Nadal this weekend in Melbourne.

This will be his fourth slam final, after losing a marathon five-set tussle against Nadal at the 2019 US Open, being beaten ruthlessly by Djokovic in the Australian Open last year, and then storming to glory in New York.

Asked about the fact he has always faced elite opposition in his finals, Medvedev said: "They are really strong, huh? It's really tough to get into the final, and I always have them there waiting for me.

"But it's fun. When I was like eight, 10 years old I was playing against the wall and I was imagining that it's Rafa on the other side, or Roger. Novak was still not yet there, I think.

"Now I have the chance to play him [in a major final] for a second time. The first one was a close one, an epic one. I need to show my best, because that's what I took from the three finals that I had before, that you have to do better than 100 per cent in order to win. That's what I managed to do in the US Open. That's what I'm going to try to do on Sunday."

Medvedev, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets in their semi-final on Friday, says Nadal's pursuit of the all-time men's grand slam record would not impact upon his own game.

"I'll be honest, on me it doesn't [have an effect]," Medvedev said. "It's not me going for the 21st, not me trying to break these records.

"I'm going for my second one. I'm still far from all these things. I'm just trying to focus on myself, doing my job.

"I'm not lying, I know what's happening, I know what Rafa is going for, I knew what Novak was going for. But it's kind of their thing, not mine. I'm just there to try to win the final."

It is clear Medvedev, a fiery character, has enormous respect for Nadal's ability to hold back from letting his own feisty emotions boil over.

"We know what Rafa's mentality in life is like. I don't know if I should call it this way, but he's like a perfect guy," Medvedev told a news conference.

World number two Medvedev will be attempting to become the first man in the Open Era to follow his maiden grand slam singles title with another at the next major. He said it would be a "great battle" against Nadal, and Medvedev, who predicted Djokovic would be keeping a close eye on the match, would be happy to disrupt the fairy tale narrative.

The ever-popular Nadal is coming back from a foot injury and has surpassed most expectations by sweeping through the draw, chasing his second Australian Open title but first since 2009, when he beat Federer.

"They are the three biggest players in the world: Novak, Rafa, Roger," Medvedev said. "All have done amazing, amazing records.

"Some of them have more records in total. They have all the same slams. Somebody has more Davis Cup titles, somebody has more Roland Garros, Australian Open, whatever.

"Rafa, especially what he's done at Roland Garros [winning 13 French Open titles], I really doubt somebody could ever beat this. But on the other ones, he's really strong also. I think it's going to be a debate for 20 years to come, no matter even who has the most slams, who of them was better. I want to say, they're all amazing."

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