Nadal one win away from record 21 Grand Slams

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World number five, Rafael Nadal, is just one win away from a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title after beating Italian seventh seed, Matteo Berrettini, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the final of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.

A win for Nadal in Sunday’s final against Daniil Medvedev will break a three-way tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and give him sole ownership of the record for the most Grand Slam singles titles. Medvedev proved his class when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the final. The Russian finished as runner-up at the Australian Open last year.

The 35-year-old Nadal remains on track to win a record 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne and his first Australian Open title since 2009. Nadal and Matteo Berrettini of Italy spent two hours and 55 minutes on court. Seventh seed Berrettini began nervously in his third Grand Slam semi-final and found his weaker backhand ruthlessly exploited by Nadal, who seemed to be cruising into the final. When the 20-time Grand Slam winner sensed an opening on Berrettini serve, he pounced.

Berrettini, the beaten finalist at Wimbledon last year, did not manage to apply any pressure to force his opponent to leave his comfort zone for two sets, but in the third, things slowly began to turn. The Italian, who played Nadal once before at the US Open in 2019, made the world number five work for his victory, by taking the third set and holding much of the momentum in the fourth. However, a key Nadal break at 4-3 helped the Spaniard claim a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, and 6-3 victory. The Spaniard was extremely emotional after securing victory.

“Well I think I started playing the match, great first two sets have been one of the best so far since long time and then I knew how good is Matteo, he’s a very solid player, very dangerous and in the third, I knew that at some point he’s going to go for the shots and I think I didn’t play a good game with myself in the 4-3 but he played some great shots, a passing shot down the line unbelievable. And then we need to suffer and we need to fight in the fourth again that’s the only way to be where I’ am today. Honestly, it means a lot to me to be in the final again here,” says Nadal.

The second semi-final between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev was a closely contested affair from the word go. Tsitsipas led from the beginning of the match, but Medvedev managed to bounce back every time. Even when it looked like Medvedev was taking control of the proceedings, Tsitsipas always had a trick up his sleeve. The two players went toe to toe in the first set and it took a tie-breaker for Medvedev to clinch the first set 7-6, after a taxing forty-seven minutes.

Just like in the opening set, the 23-year old Tsitsipas started like a house on fire. He won the second set 6-4. The third set was another see-saw battle, but Medvedev’s experience showed as he won it 6-4. Tsitsipas ran out of steam in the fourth set which saw Medvedev racing to a 4-1 lead. It was a flawless performance by the Russian in the fourth set that he eventually won 6-1.

“To be honest I don’t think emotions help me too much and many times I lose the match because of this because you lose concentration you lose too much energy which may be in the fourth set was not enough so I soon as I did. It was like that was a big mistake but I’m happy that I managed to concentrate from the beginning of the third set. I didn’t play well but I managed to pull some serves that brought me back into the match,” says Medvedev.

It took exactly two and a half hours for Medvedev to overcome his opponent and advance to his second successive Australian Open final.