It is not easy for athletes of all disciplines to manage their first seasonal commitments in the best way. The path that leads to the debut in the new tennis year, in particular, is characterized by unknowns and doubts that only training and sweat can dissipate.
After the foot injury and the positivity at Covid-19, this year it was Rafael Nadal who became the protagonist of a fantastic ride. The Spanish champion, almost six months after his last official match, returned to the field at the ATP 250 tournament in Melbourne and literally dominated his opponents.
The big question mark in view of the Australian Open was linked to his physical condition and the possibility of expressing a high level of play even in a match at the best of five sets. Nadal erased all doubts thanks to his immense talent and his great willpower.
There are two games that have made history and led Nadal to sign the Slam record won by a career tennis player. The Majorcan had to deal with a dangerous sunstroke during the meeting with Denis Shapovalov, valid for access to the semifinals of the first major of the year.
Leading by two sets, Nadal collapsed and was forced to play the fifth set. In the last and decisive part, the Spaniard found a way to put the Canadian in difficulty again and win the challenge. The 35-year-old from Mancacor made a real miracle in the final by recovering two sets of disadvantage to Daniil Medvedev.
Nadal has not yet lost a game since the start of the season and his winning streak currently stands at 13. This is his best career start. The first five positions of this special ranking, as reported by the journalist Luca Fiorino on his Twitter account, are occupied by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras.
The Serbian recorded the two best starts in tennis history in 2011 and 2020. In the first case, Djokovic has won 41 games in a row; in the second, however, he stopped at an altitude of 26 due to the disqualification suffered at the US Open, when he accidentally hit the line judge with the ball.
Sampras, Federer and Djokovic himself finally took home 17 consecutive wins in 1997, 2018 and 2013 respectively. The hunt for Nadal’s record will continue in Acapulco, where he will have to beat Medvedev’s competition in the semifinals.
The Russian, taking advantage of Djokovic’s defeat in the quarter-finals of the Dubai tournament, has become the new world number one and will want to celebrate the prestigious milestone with the victory of the Mexican event.