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Super seven: The best matches from AO 2022 

  • Gillian Tan

From nerve-wracking match tiebreaks to dramatic match points saved, from rising stars cementing their potential to tour veterans fighting to scale new heights … AO 2022 was truly chock-full of highlights.

With our champions now crowned, here are seven matches that enthralled at a memorable Australian Open.

Rafael Nadal [6] def. Daniil Medvedev [2]

Men's singles final: Nadal 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 7-5

It's always magnificent when a memorable Grand Slam tournament concludes with its most unforgettable match. And that was the case for Australian Open 2022, when Nadal went as deep as he has ever gone within himself to stage the most improbable of comebacks in the final.

Resoundingly outplayed in the opening set by reigning US Open champion Medvedev, Nadal looked certain to level the match when he built second-set leads of 4-1 and 5-3 – and 5-3 in the subsequent tiebreak. But when he failed to capitalise on any of those advantages, and Medvedev celebrated a two-set lead after slotting a backhand passing shot winner, this final looked as good as over.

Medvedev even held three break points for a 4-2 lead in the third set, but he was unable to convert any of them, and the momentum shifted. Nadal rose in intensity and firepower and eliminated errors, while Medvedev lost sting in his shots and faded physically. Nadal snatched set three, took the fourth as well, and went up an early break in the fifth, to both the delight and disbelief of the Rod Laver Arena crowd.

But there was a wobble, as Nadal served for his first AO title in 13 years; at 5-4, 30-0 up, he tightened, and dropped serve. But even with the match well past the five-hour mark, Nadal fought through physical discomfort, shrugged off that disappointment, broke Medvedev’s serve immediately in response, and served for the title once more.

This time, he prevailed. And his reaction, coupled with the crowd’s response, signified just how momentous this thrilling five-set battle was.

Matteo Berrettini [7] def. Carlos Alcaraz [31]

Men's singles third round: Berrettini 6-2 7-6(3) 4-6 2-6 7-6 [10-5]

Arguably the most-hyped rising star on the men's tour and the youngest player seeded at a major since Michael Chang over 32 years ago, Alcaraz entered his round of 32 battle with the big-serving Berrettini armed with belief. 

The Spanish 18-year-old previously had a flawless 3-0 five-set record, and saved a match point at 5-6 in the final set to force what was an electrifying match tiebreak. But the Italian denied the upstart a maiden two-sets-to-love comeback, ending the epic that spanned four hours and 10 minutes.

"I think I was telling myself that the guy that would have won the match was the guy that wanted it more, so I guess I wanted it more," said a relieved Berrettini. 

"He's impressive. He can only improve playing matches like this. He showed everybody his potential. Luckily today I won, but really congrats to him."

Daniil Medvedev [2] def. Felix Auger-Aliassime [9]

Men's singles quarterfinals: Medvedev 6-7(4) 3-6 7-6(2) 7-5 6-4

Auger-Aliassime showed he has a game worthy of the biggest stages in tennis in this captivating clash that, at four hours and 42 minutes, was the third-longest men's singles match of the tournament. 

Laser-focused and comfortably in command for much of the contest, the 21-year-old ninth seed was on the brink of a momentous upset. But Medvedev, who thrives when the pressure is at its greatest, denied his younger rival a match point when serving to stay in the contest at 4-5 in the fourth set to secure his second career comeback from two-sets-to-love. 

Auger-Aliassime pushed Medvedev to the brink

"He was playing insane, like better than I have ever seen him play," Medvedev acknowledged. 

"He was all over me … I told myself, I am going to make him work and fight until the last point," added the Russian 25-year-old, revealing that he stepped up his level after asking himself, "What would the best players in the world do?" 

Amanda Anisimova def. Naomi Osaka [13]

Women's singles third round: Anisimova 4-6 6-3 7-6 [10-5] 

With super coach Darren Cahill in her corner, Anisimova took her game to a new level against two-time Australian Open champion Osaka, who had never lost in at Melbourne Park after winning the first set. 

The promising, big-hitting 20-year-old American saved two match points at 4-5 on serve in the third to earn her first fourth round major berth since 2019, the year she unexpectedly lost her father. 

"This is a huge boost of confidence for me," said Anisimova. "I mean, I was getting goosebumps in the tiebreaker … all of that hard work that I put in is to have those moments like today." 

Osaka was gracious in defeat. "To me, it's exciting. Not the loss itself, but the person I lost to, because it's like showing the growth of tennis," she said. 

"I feel like now I'm in this position where if I lose to someone, it might make a headline, but I also think it kind of grows more superstars, and I feel like that's good for the game. So it's kind of like everything is coming in full circle."

Danielle Collins [27] def. Clara Tauson

Women's singles third round: Collins 4-6 6-4 7-5

AO 2019 junior girls' singles champion Tauson is familiar with success at Melbourne Park. Exceeding her own expectations by reaching a maiden round of 32 appearance at a major by upsetting sixth seed Anett Kontaveit, the Dane had one foot in the fourth round after storming back from a 1-4 deficit to clinch the opening set. But Collins, as we know, loves a challenge. 

The clean-hitting American turned the tables on her 19-year-old opponent and, after trailing 2-4, came back to clinch the second set. In a gruelling 67-minute final set, Tauson saved two match points at 4-5, before Collins eventually marched to victory, slapping a backhand cross-court return winner three games later.

Tauson could take comfort from her display against the eventual women's runner-up

It was an educational experience for Tauson: "I learned that even I don't have a first serve, I can still play a very long match and even put myself in a good position to win," she said. 

Alize Cornet def. Simona Halep [14]

Women's singles fourth round: Cornet 6-4 3-6 6-4 

In the hunt for a third major, Halep was one point away from trailing 6-4 4-1, but as champions do, she doggedly battled back. The 14th seed earned a break point that would have given her a 4-2 lead in the decisive set, but was thwarted by Cornet, who described the upset as a "dream come true." 

If there is a player who ends fortnight without silverware, but with career-defining memories, it is Cornet. With the win over Halep, the Frenchwoman advanced to her first major quarterfinal in her 63rd Grand Slam tournament appearance, blasting past a record previously held by Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn, who made her first major final-eight appearance in her 45th attempt, at Wimbledon in 2008.

"That's why I keep playing tennis, it's for this moment where I can share all these emotions with (the crowd) … I still can't believe it," said an ecstatic Cornet. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas [4] def. Taylor Fritz [20]

Men's singles fourth round: Tsitsipas 4-6 6-4 4-6 6-3 6-4

Fritz, 24, showed why he has been heralded as one of the best that American men's tennis has to offer. The right-hander was on the verge of his maiden victory over a top-five player at a major against Tsitsipas, stepping up to the challenge with aggressive, dictating play throughout the three-hour and 23-minute battle which remained electric until the last ball was struck.

Fritz generated 15 break points against his higher-ranked Greek rival, though Tsitsipas – showing his brilliance when it counts – conceded only two of them. 

Fritz lost to Tsitsipas, but gained plenty of credibility from his AO run

"An epic match, that's what I can say," said Tsitsipas, who later credited his mental toughness and ability to turn defence into offense. 

"I gave everything out on the court today, I'm very proud of myself the way I fought, the way I stayed consistent in the moments that were very close and crucial."