Rafael Nadal is a professional tennis player from Spain who after winning the 2022 Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne became the first tennis player to win 21 grand slam tournaments at the age of 35. He first won the Australian Open in 2009, 13 years previously.
He achieved this after having Mueller-Weiss syndrome, a painful condition of the navicular bone in the foot that first occurred at the 2021 French Open. He subsequently missed the Wimbledon Open and the Tokoyo Olympics because of a four-month lay-off due to the injury.
He also had what he described in media reports as an “unpleasant battle” and “very sick” with COVID-19 for 2 weeks in late December before traveling to Australia which makes his win even more remarkable. He was 2 sets down to Daniil Medvedev from Russia in the final and fought back to win 5 sets to 2.
The 2022 Australian Open was controversial due to the requirement of the government that the players be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate. As exemption was initially granted to Nadal’s rival to reach 21 Grand Slams, Novak Djokovic from Serbia due to a previous COVID-19 infection. After he arrived his visa was revoked due to irregularities in the exemption and he was deported prior to the tournament.
Update June, 2022:
Rafael Nadal won the French Open at Roland Garros to record 22 Grand Slam wins. It was reported in the media that he played the final with his “foot asleep”: “We played with an injection on the nerve so the foot was asleep. That’s why I was able to play” (Link).
Update June, 2023:
Novak Djokovic surpassed Rafael Nadal after he won the French Open in June 2023 to record win 23rd grand slam titles to Nadel’s 22.
Page last updated: