John McEnroe was in awe of Rafael Nadal’s stunning comeback to beat Daniil Medvedev in five sets to win the Australian Open.
Nadal became the first man since Rod Laver in 1960 to come back from two sets down to win the Australian Open.
In doing so, he also broke free of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, and is now out on his own with 21 Grand Slam titles.
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When Medvedev won a tense second-set tiebreak, there appeared only one winner but Nadal found reserves of stamina to get back into the match and McEnroe felt it was one of the great comebacks in the history of the sport - on a par with his defeat to Ivan Lendl at the French Open in 1984.
“Well I'm trying to think of greater comebacks,” McEnroe told Eurosport. "I remember when I was a ball boy, I believe way back in 1975, Manuel Orantes (in the semi-finals of the US Open). It certainly was one of the greatest comebacks, given the set of circumstances, that I've ever seen.
“Unfortunately, I was part of one where I was up two sets to love and lost that. It's more monumental than [Stefanos] Tsitsipas being up two sets to love (in last year’s French Open), even though that was a huge moment for Novak to be able to come back and win the French Open for the second time.
“Considering everything that had gone on as far as Rafael Nadal, not playing for almost six months, having the surgery, then getting Covid and then everything that was going on with Novak because they were slated to play in the semi-finals. To see him do that the way he did, I would like to say that was the greatest comeback - at least since the guy who beat me in the French Open (McEnroe v Lendl, 1984, 3-6 2-6 6-4 7-5 7-5).”
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With 21 majors to his name and back in form, Nadal will - injuries permitting - head to Roland Garros as a strong favourite to get another Grand Slam at the French Open.
McEnroe feels 22 could be a big number to topple, but the American said he would prefer Nadal, Federer and Djokovic to finish on the same number.
"What I wanted was that they all end up with the same number,” McEnroe said. “It's okay if they are all at 21 and it's okay if they are all at 22.
“I've already seen that Roger sent out a tweet and Novak - which I think is classy to congratulate him - because that's what sports is all about.
“What we just watched is what gives people goosebumps, and why you dream about being part of a match like that.
“I am proud as an ex-tennis player that I was able to watch someone do that, I admire that. It made me think wow, I wish I could have tried harder, found a way to do more. It's really an incredible achievement.
“I would never want someone to lose - especially the way that played out, I wouldn't want that to happen - it just seems like they're all so great that you sort of want them to tie, but at this point obviously it's doubtful.
“I think it's doubtful that Roger's gonna win another one. How much is he going to play? But then again, you know, we didn't expect Rafa to do that here.
“With Novak everything's up in the air at the moment, especially if he's not playing in the French. The next thing, you know, Rafa is gonna have 22.”
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