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.
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 at the end of December for an exhibition in Abu Dhabi, he contracted Covid-19 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 epic final in 2012 and another five-set marathon to Federer in 2017.
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.”
On Sunday, Nadal will face the winner of Friday’s second semi-final between No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas. Nadal has a winning record against both younger men and now has a 2-0 record against Berrettini, the 25-year-old Italian who has a big serve and forehand is heavy and charismatic, but also has a relatively weak backhand compared to Nadal. exploited many times.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/sports/tennis/nadal-berrettini-australian-open.html Nadal beats Berrettini to return to Australian Open final