Australian Open: Rafael Nadal closes in on quest for greatness | Tennis News – Times of India

MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal is two matches away from getting the jump on golden era rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to become all-time Grand Slam leader as the Australian Open gets down to the last four on Friday.
The 35-year-old Spanish gladiator has Italian power server Matteo Berrettini to overcome to get through to Sunday’s final against second seed Daniil Medvedev or number four Stefanos Tsitsipas in his quest for a 21st major title.
Nadal, seeded sixth and the 2009 winner, had modest expectations resuming after a three-and-a-half-month lay-off with a chronic foot injury at the end of last season.

But a combination of nine-time winner Djokovic’s dramatic deportation on the eve of the tournament over vaccination issues and world number three Alexander Zverev’s shock fourth round exit has cleared Nadal’s path to the top-half semi-final.
Nadal has been modifying his game to compensate for a degenerative bone disease in his left foot that threatens to end his remarkable career and faces another physical test against last year’s Wimbledon finalist Berrettini.
“Today there are still doubts because the foot, it is an injury we cannot fix… so we need to find a way that the pain is under control to keep playing,” Nadal said.
“The last six months have been a lot of doubts if I would be able to keep going.
“But now I feel good. We are in a position that we won a (lead-up) tournament, we are in semi-finals of the Australian Open, so that’s amazing for me.”
Seventh seed Berrettini, 25, the first Italian man to play in the Australian Open semi-finals, is in awe of facing up to Nadal, but believes he can cause an upset.
“Playing with him on Rod Laver Arena in the semi-finals is something that I dreamed about when I was a kid,” he said.
“Now I really want to win this match. I know I can do it. It’s gonna be a really tough one. I’m in the semis in a Slam for the third time so it means that this is my level and I want to get further.”
The two-metre tall (6ft 7in) Berrettini, who possesses a topspin forehand nearly as heavy as Nadal’s, lost their only meeting in a semi-final at the 2019 US Open in straight sets.
Medvedev, the tournament favourite, needs to recuperate before facing Tsitsipas after two long, torrid examinations just to get to the semi-finals.
He is hoping there is enough petrol left in the tank to go on and win his second major title after last year’s success over Djokovic at the US Open.
Medvedev was kept on court for 3hr 30min before dousing American serve-volleyer Maxime Cressy over four sets.
Then was taken to the brink by Canada’s ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in a five-set quarter-final that ebbed for 4hr 42min before finishing past midnight Wednesday.
“I never had this experience. I played some long matches but never like four hours and never won it to be able to play in two days,” he said.
“I’m going to try to recover as well as possible, to be ready to play against Stefanos, because he’s a great player. I need to be at my best to beat him.”
Medvedev leads Tsitsipas 6-2 in their eight meetings (2-1 in Slams) and will have to contend with the Greek favourite in Melbourne who said he was “in the zone” after producing his best match of the tournament to demolish Italian 11th seed Jannik Sinner in the quarters.
“It was the most consistent and the best match I’ve had in the tournament,” Tsitsipas said.
“I feel like I’m in the zone. I have no plans of getting out of it. It’s part of my game.”
Rafael Nadal vs Matteo Berrettini: Australian Open men’s semi-final facts
Facts and figures ahead of Friday’s Australian Open men’s semi-finals (x denotes seeding):
Rafael Nadal (ESP x6) vs Matteo Berrettini (ITA x7)
Head-to-head: Nadal leads 1-0
Fast facts
Rafael Nadal
Age: 35
World ranking: 5
Prize money: $125,050,235
Career titles: 89
Grand Slam titles: 20 (French Open 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020); Wimbledon (2008, 2010); US Open (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019) Australian Open (2009)
Coaches: Carlos Moya, Francisco Roig, Marc Lopez
Tied with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for most Grand Slam titles (20). Ranked in top 10 for record 849 consecutive weeks (2005-21), including 209 total weeks as number one following 160 straight weeks as number two.
Grand Slam match win-loss record stands at 296-41 heading into the 2022 semi-final and Australian Open record is 74-15 so the semi-final will be his 90th match in Melbourne.
Unbeaten so far this season at 8-0 and playing in his seventh Australian Open semi-final and 36th in Grand Slams.
Nadal is coming off a curtailed 2021 season caused by a chronic foot injury followed by a bout of Covid-19 in December.
Path to the semi-final:
1st rd: bt Marcos Giron (USA) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2
2nd rd: bt Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-2, 6-3, 6-4
3rd rd: bt Karen Khachanov (RUS x28) 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
4th rd: bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-6 (16/14) 6-2, 6-2
Quarter-final: bt Denis Shapovalov (CAN x14) 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3
Matteo Berrettini
Age: 25
World ranking: 7
Prize money: $8,586,516
Career titles: 5
Grand Slam titles: 0
Australian Open best: Semi-final (2022)
Coaches: Vincenzo Santopadre, Marco Gulisano, Umberto Rianna
At Wimbledon 2021 became the first Italian men’s singles finalist in tournament history and the first Italian Grand Slam men’s singles finalist since Adriano Panatta at Roland Garros in 1976.
Is now the first Italian man in history to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.
Achieved career-high number seven ranking after reaching US Open 2021 quarter-final, becoming highest-ranked Italian since number seven Corrado Barazzutti in 1978.
Path to the semi-final:
1st rd: bt Brandon Nakashima (USA) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
2nd rd: bt Stefan Kozlov (USA) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
3rd rd: bt Carlos Alcaraz (ESP x31) 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5)
4th rd: bt Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP x19) 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4
Quarter-final: bt Gael Monfils (FRA x17) 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 6-2
Medvedev v Tsitsipas: Australian Open men’s semi-final facts
Facts and figures ahead of Friday’s Australian Open men’s semi-finals (x denotes seeding):
Daniil Medevdev (RUS x2) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x4)
Head-to-head: Medvedev leads 6-2
Fast facts
Daniil Medvedev
Age: 25
World ranking: 2
Prize money: $22,126,356
Career titles: 13
Grand Slam titles: 1 (US Open 2021)
Coach: Gilles Cervara
After falling to number two Rafael Nadal in 2019 US Open final and number one Novak Djokovic in the 2021 Australian Open final, denied Djokovic a calendar Grand Slam by beating him in the 2021 US Open final.
Defeated number one Djokovic, number two Nadal and number three Dominic Thiem at 2020 ATP Finals to become the first player to sweep top three in tournament history.
Led ATP Tour with 63 wins and achieved career-high number two in 2021.
Path to the semi-final:
1st rd: bt Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)
2nd rd: bt Nick Krygios (AUS) 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
3rd rd: bt Botic van de Zandschulp (NED) 6-4, 6-4, 6-2
4th rd: bt Maxime Cressy (usa) 6-2, 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (4/7), 7-5
Quarter-final: bt Fleix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x9) 6-7 (4/7), 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-5, 6-4
Stefanos Tsitsipas
Age: 23
World ranking: 4
Prize money: $16,345,212
Career titles: 4
Grand Slam titles: 7
Australian Open best: Semi-final (2019, 2021, 2022)
Coach: Apostolos Tsitsipas
After reaching three Grand Slam semi-finals, advanced to 2021 Roland Garros final to become the first Greek Grand Slam finalist.
Captured seven ATP Tour titles including 2021 ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo and 2019 ATP Finals
Top-ranked Greek of all time achieved career-high number three ranking in August 2021.
Path to the semi-final:
1st rd: bt Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
2nd rd: bt Sebastian Baez (ARG) 7-6 (7/1), 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4
3rd rd: bt Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4
4th rd: bt Taylor Fritz (USA x20) 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Quarter-final: bt Jannik Sinner (ITA x11) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2

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