ATP Australian Open: Rafael Nadal tops Matteo Berrettini to reach final
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 8222
The 2009 Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal is through to his sixth Melbourne Park title clash following a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Matteo Berrettini in two hours and 55 minutes. Nadal is 9-0 so far in 2022, earning all of his triumphs in Melbourne and advancing into the 29th Major final, two behind Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
Nadal defeated Berrettini for the second time in two encounters, playing better on the second serve and dropping serve 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 or Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Rafa hit 28 winners and 19 unforced errors and built the advantage in the mid-range and most extended rallies to topple the rival and move a win away from the 21st Major crown. The Spaniard lost eight points behind the initial shot in the opener, avoided troubles in his games and scored one break for an early advantage and momentum.
Rafael Nadal will play for the 21st Major title at the Australian Open on Sunday.
Rafa held after deuce in the 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.
Serving well in the rest of the clash, 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 in his games.
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.
In the third game, the Italian sprayed a forehand error 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 move closer to the finish line 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.
In the ninth game, the Italian held at love 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 before Rafa broke him at 4-3 after a 13-stroke rally and the Italian's 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.