Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas will battle for the Australian Open semi-final spot on Wednesday, facing each other for the eighth time. Nadal advanced to his 13th Australian Open quarter-final following a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Fabio Fognini in two hours and 16 minutes, winning all four matches in straight sets to remain on the title course.
Stefanos didn't have to step on the court to join Nadal in the last eight, as Matteo Berrettini withdrew ahead of their fourth-round encounter with abdominal pain. In the third round on Saturday, Matteo prevailed against Karen Khachanov 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 in three hours, injuring his abdomen muscles and requiring the medical timeout to bring the victory home.
Berrettini won 14 points more than Khachanov, with two breaks on each side and better tennis from the Italian in the closing stages of each set that carried him over the top. Still, Matteo couldn't take the pain away, and the doctors advised him to skip today's clash and avoid more serious troubles ahead of the upcoming events.
Thus, Nadal and Tsitsipas will compete for the eighth time, with the Spaniard winning six of the previous seven encounters. Two years ago, Rafa toppled Stefanos 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 in the Australian Open semi-final, dropping only 12 points behind the initial shot and never losing serve to mount the pressure on the youngster.
Rafael nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas will battle for the Australian Open semis.
Finding himself in the first Major semi-final, the Greek couldn't bring his best tennis, making too many errors and suffering six breaks to carry Rafa over the top and into the title clash.
Their most recent encounter came at the ATP Finals last November, and Nadal scored a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 triumph with a strong performance in the decider. The winner of this clash will face Daniil Medvedev or Andrey Rublev in the semis.
"I don't know what happened. I felt pain under my rib, and the physio said nothing had pulled. Maybe it was just a muscle that was not working properly. I felt it when I was serving, and then my mindset went a bit away because I thought that I was two sets up. I was playing good, and I was feeling the momentum before that pain appeared," Matteo Berrettini said.