'It was different with Rafael Nadal two years ago', says Top 10

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'It was different with Rafael Nadal two years ago', says Top 10

The world's number one did it again. Although he once again gave up the opening set, he ended up appearing the "unbeatable" version of Novak Djokovic to secure his ticket to the semifinals of the 2021 US Open.

It took three hours and 27 minutes for "Nole" to beat Italian Matteo Berrettini in four episodes with partials of 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 and 6-3, who was totally outmatched by his opponent. As in his previous engagements, the heavyweight title favorite took a set to get into rhythm, but once he did, he looked very close to the best version of him.

After the opening set, he barely conceded 7 ‘games’ to a player who becomes very strong with service, but not against the best server on the planet. The 17 ‘aces’ he won were of little use to Berrettini, in the end he was outmatched by a player who, when he approaches his best level, has no opposition.

“Nole” finished with 12 ‘aces’, a 74% effectiveness with the first serve, five breaks and 147 points won. “It was a great game, with a lot of energy on the court. Matteo is a great player, that's why he is a top-ten.

Every time we face each other, it is a very close battle. When I lost the first set, I was able to quickly forget it and from the beginning of the second set I focused and put my tennis on another level. He is the best tennis player I have played in the whole tournament,” he said after his victory on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court.

It was the second time Berrettini had fallen to a member of the Big 3 in the latter stages of the US Open. The 25-year-old was beaten by eventual champion Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the semifinals of the 2019 edition.

Berrettini opens up on Novak Djokovic

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated sixth seed Matteo Berrettini in four sets in the quarterfinals of the 2021 US Open on Wednesday. "Really tough match, as always against Novak," Berrettini said.

"I was feeling good, playing good. Just he has this ability - and probably that's why he's the best ever - just to step up his game, his level all the time. Doesn't matter how well I play, he just plays better.

He starts to return better, to serve better. Just couldn't step up like he did. He deserved to win. (It) was different with Rafael Nadal two years ago, but kind of the same thing. I think with Rafa I also got to the semis. I was more tired.

After two sets, I ran out of energy," he said. "With him I feel good, but it's just that keep up that level, I need extra - I don't know - experience I guess, maybe just to play better. He doesn't give me any free points.

I have to earn every single point. Doesn't matter if I serve or if I return, he makes me sweat in a way that at the end..."