Berrettini loses semi-final to Nadal. Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Berrettini falls to Nadal at Australian Open

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Matteo Berrettini couldn’t find the key to unlock Nadal’s weaknesses in his Australian Open semi-final four set loss. Rafael Nadal moved one win away from a record 21st Grand Slam men’s title.

Nadal’s dominant start enabled him to beat Matteo Berrettini in four sets. The Spaniard took the first two sets, before seventh seed Berrettini eventually turned the match into a contest.

Nadal completed a 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 win. “The first two sets were some of the best I’ve played for a long time,” said Nadal. He won his only Melbourne title in 2009.

“Against a difficult opponent, a great opponent, one of the best of the world, I was able to play I think at a very high level for a long time. I had to suffer and I had to fight but it means a lot to be in the final again.”

Closed roof thought to favour Berrettini

Before the semi-final match there were some doubts about Nadal’s chances. He suffered a potential career ending foot injury last year and received treatment for a stomach issue during his quarter-final. The five-set match also left 35-year-old Nadal feeling “destroyed physically”.

Nadal started sharply, attacking Berrettini’s backhand, considered the weakest part of the Italian’s game. Berrettini’s backhand continued to break down in the second set, enabling Nadal to take his opening two service games.

Berrettini looked unsure how to neutralise Nadal. By the end of the second set, Berrettini had hit 24 unforced errors.

Berrettini started the third set serving first. Holding his serve was imperative as it allowed scoreboard pressure to fall on Nadal. Having done so, the Italian’s forehand began to cause Nadal more trouble. This allowed him to earn his first break points of the match. He took a 5-3 lead before serving out to love to ensure a fourth set.

Both men held serve in the opening seven games, but Berrettini letting half a chance slip from 3-3 15-30 with two missed forehands proved crucial.

Berrettini had held to love in five successive service games – but then let Nadal in when it mattered most.

Nadal post-match

“I’m super happy to be able to compete for the last three weeks at the level that I am doing,” said Nadal.

“It’s surprising for me to be able to play at the level that I am playing. To compete and play tennis at a high level again, facing the most important players of the world, is something unbelievable for me.”

Nadal faces Russian Daniil Medvedev, who beat Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, in Sunday’s final.

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