After months of sitting on sidelines, Rafael Nadal is finally up and running once again! The former World No. 1 was back to his best as he clinched the trophy in Melbourne Summer Set 1 on Sunday. After being out of action for about four months, the 35-year-old had been making slow and gentle strides towards full fitness in last few days and his 89th ATP title triumph was a testimony to the fact that he is back.
In the finals of the tournament, Nadal was presented with a tough challenge in form of America's Maxime Cressy. The duo battled it out and played some gorgeous tennis but in the end, it was Nadal who came out on top as he won the match 7-6 (6), 6-3, clinching the trophy at Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal shows his class in grand finale
It was a hardly fought match of 1 hour 44 minutes where Nadal had to produce various strokes of genius to get his way back into the match. From saving a set point in first-set tie-breaker to coming back from a break down in 2nd set, the Spaniard showed his class on various occasions.
However, there was one rally in the 1st set which was way too special, even for someone like Nadal. After a return from Nadal touched the net and looped over the other side, Cressy got a wonderful opportunity to hit the winner and seal the game.
The American smashed a backhand towards the right of Nadal, which was left open. However, the 20-time Grand Slam champion got himself back into the position very quickly before producing a quick return in no time, leaving his opponent absolutely stunned. The tremendous reflexive reaction from Nadal left Cressy with no chance as he saw the Spaniard's return going past him in despair.
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I played my best match so far since I arrived here: Nadal
After the match, Nadal was undoubtedly delighted with his performance. He said, "Very happy to start the season with a title... and from where we are coming, it's very special. Tonight I think I played my best match so far since I arrived here, without a doubt, against a very difficult player."
While accepting the fact the last few months were tough with injuries and COVID-19, he added that he is hoping to have an uninterrupted season going forward. "Well, exactly where I would like to be is being 100% healthy playing until the end of the season... I have a lot of things to keep improving... and I'm going to try hard," Nadal concluded.