The defeat in the final against Djokovic should not hide the outstanding tournament of Rafa in Melbourne. There has not been a player in the history of tennis able to overcome so many critical situations on and off the court as Nadal. The last chapter in Rafa's resurrections has been at the Australian Open. He appeared after being more than four months without playing an official game. Of the semifinal in the Open USA before Del Potro until the premiere with Duckworth he lived several resignations. He suffered abdominal pain, an arthroscopy in the right ankle, discomfort in the thigh of the left leg and the latter after the season with fewer games of his life. In 2018 he only played 49 games (45/4), played nine tournaments and of the seven that he finished, he won five. But he had to reinvent himself in a very special event for him. «I have a special affection for Australia and even more after all that I have lived here. I have had good moments, but I remember many misfortunes that have happened to me and the hardest was in 2014 when I injured my back in the final against Wawrinka. I think that match was the hardest of my entire career because I spent two hours on the track knowing that I was not going to win and losing the chance to win another '' Grand Slam ''. It is the match that has most affected me mentally and of which I have needed more time to recover. I have lived many negative things and I have only won once here, "he commented on Eurosport before the final with Djokovic.
After having to retire on September 7 in New York, Nadal proposed to his team to change his service. The initiative was his. I was not looking for a drastic change. "We have to adapt to the new times and my age," he said. It was about tweaking small details to gain speed and that the second service did not invite the attack of the best subtractors. Said and done. Added to this was the search for greater aggression and a physical response. If Rafa is physically well, he is mentally a rock, at least until he runs into Djokovic, and that is how the last resurrection, the last two weeks, has materialized.
There were many more before. The first was in 2006 after it exploded with 19 years and 11 titles. After winning Ljubicic at the Madrid Masters, when he was still playing on a fast track, the problems came with the support on his left foot. Four months of break and a reappearance in Marseille to win five titles in 2006. That year began the chronic problems of tendonitis in the knees, although he could compete without significant bumps until 2012, the year he lost to Djokovic the longest final in the history of the "Majors", precisely in Melbourne.
That exercise was the most painful of his career. He fell in the second round of Wimbledon against Lukas Rosol and spent more than seven months without competing. The longest stop. The return was in 2013 in the Chilean tournament of Viña del Mar and what happened then surprised everyone, including Rafa himself. He played 82 games, only lost 7 and picked up ten titles, including the three «Grand Slams» he played.
The ups and downs marked by physical problems extended in 2015 to its head. As Rafa himself acknowledged he suffered anxiety on the track. He was close to abandoning the "top 10" of the ATP and in 2016 he barely reached fifty matches. With five titles added in those two years and with problems in the left wrist stopped in October. There he made a fundamental decision for Nadal, who had already turned thirty: he added Carlos Moyá to your technical team. Who saw him in the preseason of 2017 speaks of an extraordinary level in training. It was the best preparation of his life. Solved the wrist problems, with a little less weight, recovering the drive and carefully selecting the calendar returned the best Nadal. The last break, since last September, has not prevented the last resurrection of Rafa. Only Djokovic has prevented it from being perfect.