MELBOURNE, Australia —Rafael Nadal moved in a match of his 21st Grand Slam men’s singles title breaking the record by beating Matteo Berrettini of Italy, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 , in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
Sixth seed Nadal will face second seed Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final.
Medvedev also won in four sets on Friday, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, but Medvedev’s win was much harsher than Nadal’s. After losing serve in game 9 of the second set and admitting a code violation for visible obscenity, Medvedev angrily yelled at umpire Jaume Campistol during most of the changeover because alleged that Tsitsipas’ father had illegally trained his son from the boxer. .
“Are you stupid? His father can say every point?” Medvedev said from his chair, shouting “Look at me!” at the Spanish official as Campistol turned his head back onto the field to try to defuse the situation. Figure.
It was an unusual outburst, and when Tsitsipas finally received a warning for training early in the fourth set, he hadn’t won another game as Medvedev sped to the finish line.
“Many times I lost matches because of this,” Medvedev said of his fury. “Lost focus and too much energy, so as soon as I was done, I was like it was a big mistake.”
Tsitsipas laughed when asked about the outburst after the game.
“Definitely funny,” he said. “I don’t pay attention to these things. Players love to do these things to your dismay. Maybe a tactic. It’s okay. Anyway, he’s not the most mature. “
Tsitsipas, who has received several coaching infractions in recent seasons, said he did not train on Friday even if he believes it should be allowed in men’s tennis. “I couldn’t hear anything when I was playing and the crowd was so loud point by point,” he said. “You have to have superior hearing to be able to hear what your coach has to say.”
But Medvedev, who could face a post-match penalty for his behavior, was able to regroup and take full command of the semi-final. Sunday’s showdown with Nadal will be a tough rematch US Open Finals 2019 which Nadal won in five sets.
Nadal, the 35-year-old Spaniard, is tied with his longtime rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the men’s record.
But neither Federer nor Djokovic compete in this year’s tournament. Federer is still recovering from knee surgery and Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, was deported ahead of the tournament after the Australian government revoked his visa and his appeal was denied.
Nadal, the only member of the Big Three in Melbourne, surprisingly carried the torch after missing most of the second half of the 2021 season with a chronic leg problem that he said threatened his career. his career. When he returned to action in late December for an exhibition in Abu Dhabi, he contracted the coronavirus and developed symptoms at home in Majorca, Spain before making the long trip to Australia.
But he won a warm-up tournament at Melbourne Park before the main event and is now past six more to reach his sixth and most unexpected Australian Open final.
He has won this title only once, beat Federer for the title in 2009. Since then, he’s been through a lot of pain in tennis at Rod Laver Arena: losing to Djokovic in the 2012 final that lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes, and another. marathon to Federer in 2017 despite taking a 3-1 lead in the fifth set.
Now, he has the opportunity to make a difference.
“For me, it’s more about the Australian Open than anything else,” he said when asked about the prospect of a 21st place. “I was lucky to win it in 2009 but never thought of one. another chance in 2022.”
Nadal currently has a 2-0 record against Berrettini, the 25-year-old Italian with a big serve, heavy forehand and plenty of charm, but also a relatively weak backhand that Nadal has exploited many times.
Djokovic did the same thing when he beat Berrettini in last year’s Wimbledon final, and in the first two hours of Friday’s match, Berrettini looked frustrated and growing weary as Nadal kept him off balance and lost balanced with a series of sharp and high serves. the front arms bounced up.
“I think I started the match great,” said Nadal. “The first two sets are the best so far since a long time.”
Berrettini had no break points on Nadal’s serve until the eighth game of the third set, but with Nadal serving at 3-4, Berrettini dashed to the right and hit a winning forehand down the starting line. It’s a surprise for both of them. Nadal soon served 0-40 and two points later, Berrettini was able to break serve for him for the first time, slapping a forehand winner.
He then served in the third set, baring his teeth at his support group as he edged past Nadal to the front seat of the fourth set.
“He’s a very solid player, very dangerous,” said Nadal. “And in the third season, I knew he was going to come on at some point. I didn’t play well with my serve at 3-4, but he played some great shots. The pass over the pass was unbelievable.”
But the play was still in Nadal’s favor as he continued to focus on attacking Berrettini’s backhands. The Italian hit a two-handed winner to take a 15-30 lead when Nadal served in the opening match of the fourth set, but Nadal won a cat-and-mouse exchange on the next point as Berrettini missed a backhand serve. shot down.
Although Berrettini continued to hustle and rip off his previous shots, he was unable to sustain his comeback, losing serve in the eighth game of the final game.
“We need to suffer and we need to fight,” said Nadal, summarizing his philosophy over his nearly 20-year career. “It was the only way I got where I am today. Honestly, it means a lot to me to be in the final here again. ”
Both Federer and Djokovic were aiming for 21st place in a Grand Slam final and both missed. Federer had two serve points against Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final and failed to convert. Djokovic faced Medvedev in last year’s US Open final and lost in consecutive sets.
Now it’s Nadal’s turn, even as he continues to say that finishing ahead of Federer and Nadal in the Grand Slam chase is not his obsession or priority.
“I will also sleep after I retire whether that happens or not,” he once said in an interview.
But a second Australian Open title would certainly be most welcome. He is the fifth-oldest man to reach a singles final here in the Open era and like Federer, who was 35 when he won in 2017, Nadal will return from a layoff injury. and play with less freedom and expectations than usual.
He has the staying power and is eager to hold off Denis Shapovalov in a five-set quarter-final in the heat. After two days of recuperation, he had the skill and precision to hold Berrettini under an enclosed roof on Friday with rain pouring down Melbourne throughout the game.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/sports/tennis/nadal-medvedev-australian-open.html Nadal and Medvedev will play in Australian Open final