Throw in Ashleigh Barty turning into the primary house winner for 44 years, and native heroes Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis profitable the lads’s doubles, this was a Grand Slam that can reside lengthy within the reminiscence for myriad causes.
After the chaos that preceded the match, Tennis Australia could not have dreamt of a happier ending — and it was one they desperately wanted, after a contest riddled with unforced errors on the organisers’ elements.
It started with the spectacle of the nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic being detained in a infamous immigration resort, struggling a number of courtroom circumstances and eventual deportation — surprising regardless of which aspect you sit within the Covid-19 vaccination debate.
When the primary serve at Melbourne Park was struck on January 17, the world primary was in a Dubai airport transit lounge ready for his connecting flight house to Belgrade.
It wasn’t simply the Djokovic saga that forged a shadow over the primary Grand Slam match of 2022.
Tennis Australia needed to make a hasty and embarrassing U-turn after instructing employees to stop spectators carrying “The place is Peng Shuai?” T-shirts to focus on concern for the Chinese language participant.
Additionally they needed to justify a largely voluntary Covid-19 testing protocol that got here in for criticism from some gamers, notably world quantity three Alexander Zverev.
They could rely themselves extraordinarily fortunate that there have been solely a handful of virus circumstances.
Tennis Australia will little question bask within the glory of their two historic champions, Nadal and Barty.
Event director Craig Tiley was beaming via his masks throughout the presentation ceremonies.
However as a central determine within the pre-tournament chaos he, or his successor, should ensure that the extraordinary scenes within the run-up to the match are by no means repeated.
Crowds have been again in numbers after days of pandemic-enforced empty arenas the yr earlier than, however spectators got here in for flak for his or her raucous behaviour.
Kyrgios’ opponents particularly complained of yobbish jeering, whipped up by the Australian unhealthy boy.
And within the remaining, booing and screaming between serves to attempt to delay Daniil Medvedev made Rod Laver Arena appear extra like Madrid throughout a Davis Cup tie — a feverishly pro-Nadal cauldron.
The environment degenerated additional because the beer started to speak ever louder, with the epic match grinding on previous 1:00 am Monday.
Medvedev grew to become agitated, Nadal needed to attraction for calm and the chair umpire needed to threaten miscreants with removing by safety employees.
However in the long run, the abiding reminiscence might be of Nadal’s monumental achievement in profitable that unprecedented twenty first Grand Slam after an astonishing remaining lasting 5hr 24min.
It was Nadal’s second Australian Open, however got here 13 years after his first.
It was his first win from two units down in virtually 15 years, and a primary in a Slam remaining.
When he touched down in Melbourne, the 35-year-old had performed no aggressive tennis since early August due to a continual foot damage.
Eleven unbeaten matches later he has two extra match wins and has moved forward of Djokovic and Roger Federer because the all-time males’s Grand Slam chief.
The absence of that pair — Federer via damage, Djokovic via deportation — will imply detractors will attempt to diminish Nadal’s achievement, unparallelled as it’s within the males’s recreation.
Absolutely to be one of the best, you need to beat one of the best?
Nadal has good trigger to say he did.
Medvedev, the Russian world quantity two, blew Djokovic away in New York 4 months earlier to stop the Serbian turning into first to strike 21.
The de facto prime seed, Medvedev is 10 years Nadal’s junior, was the newest Grand Slam champion and seemed unstoppable as he led by two units and held three break factors within the third.
TV’s computerised “Win Predictor” put Nadal’s possibilities of triumphing from there at 4 %.
However although Nadal was down, he was not fairly out.
Slowly his dedication and sheer will to win enabled him to claw the match again from the brink.
The outcome was on a knife-edge till the dying moments, and will have gone both approach within the remaining set because the pair exchanged a number of service breaks.
However in the long run 4 % was all Nadal, and the Australian Open, wanted.