Rafael Nadal traveled to Melbourne in January without knowing what to expect. The Spaniard missed the second part of 2021 due to a foot injury and came to Australia without high expectations. Giving his everything, Rafa claimed a small ATP 250 event before embracing the Australian Open run.
Nadal endured a couple of challenging obstacles and advanced to his sixth Australian Open final, seeking the first title in 2009. Rafa met Matteo Berrettini in the semi-final and scored a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 triumph in two hours and 55 minutes, moving into his 29th Major final.
Nadal played better on the second serve and got broken once from two chances offered to his opponent. The Spaniard seized four out of eight break points to seal the deal and set the title clash against Daniil Medvedev. Rafa hit 28 winners and 19 unforced errors and built the advantage in the mid-range and most extended rallies to move a win away from the 21st Major crown.
The Spaniard lost eight points behind the initial shot in the opener, avoiding troubles in his games and scoring one break for an early advantage and momentum.
Rafael Nadal reached his 29th Major final at the Australian Open.
Rafa held after deuce in the encounter’s opening game and grabbed a break in the next one following Matteo’s loose backhand.
Nadal defended nicely in the third game to cement the advantage and held at 15 in game five for a 4-1 lead. The Spaniard secured the seventh game with a forehand winner and wrapped up the opener after deuce in game nine with a service winner for 6-3 in 43 minutes.
Rafa served at only 50% in set number two, but no one could notice that after dropping six points. Standing miles away from that pace, Berrettini got broken twice in a row in the early stage to push the rival closer to the finish line.
Nadal broke in the opening game with a forehand crosscourt winner and held at 15 to cement the lead. The Italian sprayed a forehand error in the third game to suffer a break and fall further behind, standing powerless after an hour on the clock.
Nadal served well in games four, six and eight to control the pace and sealed the set with an unreturned serve at 5-2 to extend the gap after an hour and 25 minutes. Berrettini held after deuce twice in the third set to stay competitive, and Nadal locked the result at 3-3 with another unreturned serve.
Suddenly, Matteo created three break points in the eighth game and fired a powerful forehand winner on the second to break Rafa for the first time and move 5-3 ahead. The Italian held at love a few minutes later to wrap up the set in style, taking 12 of the last 13 points to force set number four.
With momentum on his side, Matteo produced three holds at love to stay competitive. Rafa stayed composed and broke the opponent at 4-3 after a 13-stroke rally and the Italian’s costly forehand mistake. Serving for the victory in game nine, Nadal held at 15 to seal the deal and book a place in his sixth Australian Open final at 35.
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