The 35-year-old Rafael Nadal has had injuries in the past 12 months, failing to reach a Major final in 2021 and skipping the last part of the season with a troubled foot. Nadal wrapped up the previous season in August and underwent a minor procedure in September, hoping to get ready for the start of 2022.
During the recovery process, the Spaniard had ups and downs, losing both matches at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi and raising doubts ahead of the Australian swing. As it turned out, Rafa is yet to lose a match in 2022, finding the right form and winning the ATP 250 event in Melbourne.
Gathering boost ahead of the Australian Open, Nadal scored six victories at the Melbourne Park to advance into the 29th Major final and the sixth Down Under, overcoming a challenging period like many times before. Nadal dropped four sets in six Australian Open encounters to find himself in the title clash against Daniil Medvedev, seeking the record-breaking 21st Major crown on Sunday.
Rafael Nadal ousted Matteo Berrettini in four sets for sixth Australian Open final.
Rafa took down Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 55 minutes in the semis for a memorable victory and an emotional moment that saw him crying while packing his racquets.
The Spaniard seized four out of eight break points to seal the deal and remain on the title course, beating the Italian for the second time from as many encounters. Rafa hit 28 winners and 19 unforced errors and built the advantage in the mid-range and most extended rallies thanks to his rock-solid groundstrokes.
Nadal had a massive advantage in the opening two sets, serving well and mounting the pressure on the other side. Unable to find more free points from his initial shot or defend his backhand, Berrettini got broken three times to find himself on the verge of defeat.
The Italian survived two games with deuces at the beginning of the third and gained momentum. He took 12 of the last 13 points from 3-3 to close the set in style and force the fourth. The Italian held at love three times before the more experienced rival broke him to forge the crucial advantage in the eighth game.
Rafa served out for the victory at 5-3 and advanced into his first Major final since the 2020 Roland Garros, feeling great about his performance after almost skipping the season's opening Major.