No player currently ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association was even born when an Australian last won the Australian Open. On Jan. 29, 2022, that changed. Ashleigh Barty, 25-year-old world No. 1 tennis player, defeated Danielle Collins, 6-3, 7-6 (2), in the Australian Open women’s singles final, ending Australia’s 44-year drought of a homegrown champion.
Barty dominated the Australian Open field and captured the title without losing a single set throughout the tournament, defeating unranked Amanda Anisimova, No. 21 Jessica Pegula, and No. 27 Danielle Collins in her last three rounds en route to the title.
In her victory speech, Barty referenced the Australian crowd and the support from her fans. “As an Aussie, the most important part of this tournament is being able to share it with so many people, and you guys today in the crowd have been nothing short of exceptional,” Barty said. “This crowd is one of the most fun I’ve ever played in front of, and you guys brought me so much joy out there today, you relaxed me, you forced me to play my best tennis, and against a champion like Danielle, I knew I had to absolutely bring that today. This is just a dream come true for me, and I’m so proud to be an Aussie.”
After a shocking defeat in the third round of the US Open in Sept. 2021, Barty has not lost a match, capturing both the singles and doubles titles of the Adelaide International earlier this year and the singles Australian Open title.
She’s cemented herself as the world’s top-ranked player, an honor she has held for two years and counting. With her victory Saturday night, she moved to 3-0 in Grand Slam finals, with titles at three different venues: the French Open, Wimbledon, and now the Australian Open. Barty will look to keep her incredible start to the year going, and she now just needs a title at the U.S. Open later this year to complete a career grand slam.
The Australian Open was marred by Novak Djokovic, the top tennis player in the world, and a controversial Visa battle regarding his vaccination exemption which led to his deportation. However, the Australian Open final itself was nothing short of an instant classic.
World No. 5 Rafael Nadal outlasted world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, 2-6, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, in a thrilling, five hour twenty-four-minute contest to capture the 2022 Australian Open men’s singles title.
Nadal made his third 0-2 comeback at a major in his storied 21-year professional career and became the first player to do so in the Australian Open final since Roy Emerson in 1965. More importantly, with this win, Nadal claimed his 21st Grand Slam title, breaking a tie with current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and world No. 17 Roger Federer and building on his case as the greatest men’s tennis player of all time.
Nadal’s path to his 21st title was nothing short of miraculous. In 2021, Nadal was forced out of Wimbledon, the Olympics, and the U.S. Open, three of the largest tennis events, by a chronic foot issue injury that had reappeared earlier that year. An ensuing foot operation left him on crutches through September, and after that, Nadal battled a case of COVID-19 in late December 2021. To be able to participate in the Open was one thing, to win it was another. With his second career Australian Open title thirteen years after his first, Nadal ended a run of four straight losses in the Australian Open finals (2012, 2014, 2017, and 2019).
In his victory speech, Nadal revealed that he had considered retirement earlier, saying, “I don’t know what to say. For me, it’s just amazing. Being honest, one month and a half ago I didn’t know if I would be able to be back on the tour and now I am here sharing the trophy with all of you. You don’t know how much I fought to be here. Thank you so much for all the support.” Nadal’s journey will certainly not end here and he is undoubtedly the favorite to win his 22nd Grand Slam title in the French Open, an event he has won thirteen times, later this year.
Congratulations to both Rafael Nadal and Ashleigh Barty on their historic victories and for capturing the 2022 Australian Open singles titles!