‘Nadal just like Federer’ – John McEnroe hails ‘classiest champion’ in emulating 2017 feat
Rafael Nadal is one match win away from replicating Roger Federer’s famous 2017 Australian Open renaissance triumph, and John McEnroe is here for it.
The 20-time Slam champion defeated Matteo Berrettini to reach his 29th Slam final and sixth at the Australian Open.
The astonishing feats that Nadal and co continue to achieve has not gone unnoticed by fellow greats of the sport, including seven-time Major champion McEnroe.
“I don’t know what it means for the history of tennis, these guys are just incredible what they keep doing,” McEnroe said on Europsort.
“It started out as a complete and utter train wreck with Djokovic when he was down there and all we were talking about was him and how he was the guy who was going to go and make history and break the record.
“But they forgot to mention that Rafael Nadal was there who hasn’t played in six months.
“Who is the last guy who didn’t play for six months and then went on to win the Australian Open?
“His name was Roger Federer.”
In 2016, Federer ended his season after Wimbledon due to a knee injury.
At the age of 35 and with a Slam title drought of over four years, many believed he would never claim another Major.
But after six months away from the court, Federer famously revived himself to win a fifth Australian Open title and 18th Slam crown overall, defeating none other than Nadal in the final.
Just like Federer did in 2016, Nadal, now 35, ended his 2021 season early back in August due to injury, then did not play for five months before Australia.
He could now replicate Federer’s title feat from 2017, and would claim a men’s record 21st Major title in doing so.
“All of a sudden things have fallen into place for Rafa who has to be the humblest, classiest champion of almost any athlete I’ve ever seen in any sport,” McEnroe gushed.
“It’s well-deserved for a guy to do this like Rafa Nadal, you can see how much it meant to him to get to the finals again.”
Nadal will face either US Open champion Daniil Medvedev or world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday.
Watch the Australian Open exclusively live on discovery+, Eurosport and Eurosport app.
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