Australian Open: Rafael Nadal wins record-breaking 21st grand slam after beating Daniil Medvedev in epic final

    Rafael Nadal beat Daniil Medvedev to win a record-breaking 21st grand slam title.

    (CNN)Rafael Nadal clinched a record-breaking 21st grand slam title after beating Daniil Medvedev 2-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 7-5 in an Australian Open final for the ages.

    The Spaniard surpassed the previous men's record of 20 he held jointly with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, the latter of whom was denied entry into the country after having his visa revoked.
    There had been major doubts about whether or not Nadal would even be fit enough to play at the Australian Open after missing the second half of 2021 with a foot injury.
      However, he returned to action at the Melbourne Summer Set tournament at the beginning of January, going on to win his first ATP title since May 2021.
        After beating Matteo Berrettini in the Australian Open semifinal, Nadal said he was just happy to be back on the court after being beset by injuries.
        As he sank to the floor, exhausted but victorious after five-and-a-half enthralling hours, Nadal proved he was not only fit enough to still compete at grand slams, but could realistically still win several more.
        "It has been one of the most emotional matches in my tennis career and to share the court with you [Medvedev] was an honor," Nadal said in his on court interview. "I don't even know what to say, guys, for me it's just amazing.
          Rafael Nadal sinks to his knees after winning the Australian Open.
          "I can't thank enough all the guys that are there [in my box], all the team, family ... just how hard the last year and half has been and in the low moments you have been there to support me and without you guys none of this would be possible.
          "Being honest, one and a half months ago I didn't know if I would be back on the tour playing tennis again and today I am here in front of you with the trophy again," he said after Sunday's final. "You don't know how much I fought to be here. Thank you so much for the love and support.
          "Without a doubt [it was] one of the most emotional matches in my tennis career and having the huge support I received during the three weeks is going to stay in my heart for the rest of my life, so many, many thanks.
          "One month and half ago I would have said it would be my last Australian Open, but now I have a lot of energy to carry on. I cant explain the feelings I have now, but I'm going to try my best to come back next year."
          Rafael Nadal celebrates victory in the men's singles final of the Australian Open.

          Medvedev cruises early

          The crowd was audibly in favor of Nadal when the two players walked out onto the court, with a smattering of boos echoing around Rod Laver arena when Medvedev was introduced.
          In Nadal's second service game, the pair exchanged a grueling 26-shot rally which ended with Medvedev's pinpoint backhand down the line to open up a 0-30 advantage.
          The Spaniard then shut the door with two quite remarkable points; the first a ridiculous passing shot after Medvedev had crushed a short forehand straight at him, the second a volley winner after being forced to go full stretch to reach a huge forehand.
          Nadal did eventually hold serve to take an early 2-1 lead, but he was being made to work brutally hard for every single point and was already being forced to produce some of his best tennis.
          As Medvedev cruised through his own service games by comparison, heaping the pressure immediately back onto Nadal, you had to wonder whether t