MELBOURNE, Australia – No players in the men’s singles semifinals at Australian Open has made it far unharmed.
It’s all been pushed up into five sets under the heat at this year’s Melbourne Park.
Rafael Nadal, his most recent comeback, dropped more than 10 pounds and battled feelings of nausea and dizziness in a tough win over Canada’s Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday at Rod Laver Arena. Russia’s Daniil Medvedev had to save a match point in the same stadium on Wednesday before winning over Shapovalov’s compatriot, Felix Auger-Aliassime, in a post-midnight thriller.
Matteo Berrettini has been stretched to the limit twice: by Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz and French veteran Gael Monfils. Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece had to rally to escape the hands of Taylor Fritz of America.
But after Medvedev came out with a two-set loss in the quarterfinals, the final was set, and it was a lineup with real star power if, for now, only one truly great tennis.
It’s Nadal, 35, who is narrowly overtaking his longtime gauges, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, with his 21st Grand Slam singles title but as usual, talking about destination and priority Journeys.
“I’m very satisfied and feel generally a very lucky person for all the things that happen to me in this life, aren’t I?” Nadal said, looking attracted but finished after fighting Shapovalov. “You can’t always be upset if the neighbor has a bigger house than you or a better phone or a better thing, can you? I wouldn’t be disheartened if Novak or Roger ended their careers with more Grand Slams than me.”
It must be said that Nadal has a lot of good things, including a million dollar watch and an 80-foot yacht called the “Great White,” but he clearly still wants more time on the pitch. Why did he spend months recovering from a chronic foot condition that threatened his career for the first time at the age of 20? Why did he make the trip to Melbourne despite being sick with coronavirus at the end of December?
The love for the game remains, and he could have more playing time (and challenges) in his semi-final against Berrettini, the 6-foot-6 Italian, whose upper forehand hit His head is almost as heavy as Nadal.
They played only once. Nadal has won consecutive sets in the 2019 US Open semi-finals, the last Grand Slam that Nadal has won in a tough match. But Berrettini, 25, is now a major threat in the professional league after reaching the Wimbledon final last year.
“I’ve watched him so many times at this tournament and in another, cheering for him,” Berrettini said of Nadal. “Playing him against Rod Laver in the semi-final is something I dreamed of as a kid.”
But the dream now is not to play him but to beat him.
“I know I can do it,” Berrettini said at a late-night press conference this week. “It’s going to be a really tough match, but I’ve been in the semi-finals at the Slam for the third time, as you guys have said, so that means this is my level and I want to go far. more.”
Berrettini is the first Italian to reach the singles semi-final at the Australian Open and will be the only one until at least next year. His 20-year-old red-haired compatriot Jannik Sinner was unable to face Tsitsipas in Thursday’s quarter-final.
Tsitsipas, a 23-year-old right winger returning from minor elbow surgery during the off-season on his playing arm, appeared to be worse off in the early rounds as he misplaced the stepping stones. mine. But he had a higher goal in mind against Sinner: dominate with a versatile and powerful forehand, one of the best shots in the game. He converted all four of his break points, met no break points on his own serve, and adjusted beautifully to Sinner’s big-bang base speed to win, 6-3, 6 -4, 6-2.
He then thanked his surgeon in Switzerland.
“He always texted me after every game,” said Tsitsipas. “We didn’t think I was going to play at the Australian Open.”
Playing like that again in the final rounds will likely win the Australian Open, where he emerges in earnest in 2019 by upset Federer, whose athletically slick, game on the court and a one-handed backhand influenced a similar match for Tsitsipas.
But to get to Tsitsipas in the end must complete the most difficult task remaining in Melbourne. He must beat Medvedev, the 25-year-old Russian with unorthodox style, who is trailing Djokovic’s No. 1 spot after beating him in the US Open 2021 final.
Medvedev and Tsitsipas – 2nd and 4th respectively – are both leaders of the new wave, having enjoyed a friendly relationship on tour and admit it. But they warmed up to each other while playing the Laver Cup for Team Europe in Boston last year.
Tsitsipas said: “Things got better after the Laver Cup. “We haven’t really talked in the past few months, but our relationship is rivals on the field and kind of fighting for the same dream.”
Medvedev led their head-to-head series 6-2 and beat Tsitsipas 4-0 on outdoor hard courts, surfaces at the Australian Open. But Medvedev, who lost to Djokovic in the final at Melbourne Park last year, was knocked out by one point on Wednesday to the dynamic and inspiring Auger-Aliassime.
Medvedev beat him in all three of their previous matches while losing just one set. But he lost the first two sets in the quarterfinals as he proved less reliable than usual during their lengthy, often spectacular basic rallies and struggled to read and return the results. Auger-Aliassime’s big serve.
They are complete contrasts. Medvedev played his serve games at breakneck speed, often taking less than 10 seconds between points. Auger-Aliassime is measured on his serve games, often using the full 25 seconds. His technique is classic, with smooth strokes and tracing. Medvedev’s goalie is a 100% manual technique, with his long legs flying in all directions seemingly suboptimal but his shot is clean and devastating.
He’s brimming with big-score confidence after winning his first major title in New York, and he needs it on Wednesday when he faces a match point on his serve of 4-5, 30-40 in the fourth set after a double fault.
He saved it by tearing a wide first serve that Auger-Aliassime couldn’t handle and then gaining momentum to win.
He was also lucky to get a boost earlier in the game when play was stopped to close the retractable roof at Laver Arena because it rained in the third inning. Conditions are considerably cooler when the roof is closed, and Medvedev admits, more to his liking.
But indoors or out, it was an intense horror match, one in which the ninth-seeded Auger-Aliassime came very close to victory.
“I think he’s just a little bit better than me, sometimes a little more solid,” said Auger-Aliassime, who broke serve in the third game of the fifth set and failed to convert any of the six points. his break point in that set.
Medvedev seems to have released the tension: energetic and crowd-pleasing. When his return was complete, commentator Jim Courier asked him how he turned the game around.
“I really don’t know what to do,” he replied. “So I don’t know if people will like it but I said to myself: ‘What would Novak do?'”
There was a chorus of boos from the Australian crowd largely at the mention of Djokovic, The Serbian star has not been vaccinated who was deported from the country on the eve of the tournament after his visa was revoked and his appeal was denied.
Medvedev is usually unaffected by the crowd’s outcry – watch US Open 2019 — but this time he had a diplomatic cover-up: quickly mentioned “Rafa” and “Roger” as potential influences, and got cheers for his efforts.
But Djokovic, famous or not, is the champion that Medvedev has fought in Melbourne or not.
“In all the games, as soon as I was a little down, I said, ‘Be like Novak. Show him that you are better,” he said when referring to his objection.
So far, that’s been enough for Medvedev, the tournament’s highest male seed. Djokovic, the nine-time Australian Open champion, should have been seeded No. 1. Although his absence has affected the competitive balance, it has not made the tournament much of a draw. mind and a well-deserved final.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/sports/tennis/medvedev-nadal-tsitsipas-berrettini.html Four Australian Open Finals: It’s Nadal vs. Berrettini and Medvedev vs. Tsitsipas