Rafael Nadal is just one win away from making tennis history. On Friday, Nadal defeated No. 7 seed Matteo Berrentini 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the first of two men’s semifinals at the Australian Open. Nadal is now in Sunday’s final. If he wins the tournament, it would be his record 21st Grand Slam title.
Standing in Nadal’s way is No. 2 seeded Danill Medvedev, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas to earn his place in the final.
Nadal will be competing in his 29th Grand Slam final when he takes the court at Melbourne Park on Sunday. If he wins, he’ll also become just the fourth men’s player to win all four Grand Slams on at least two occasions. It’s a whirlwind for Nadal, who had quite the calendar year in which he battled a foot injury then tested positive for COVID-19 in December.
Nadal fell to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the French Open and then skipped Wimbledon in an effort to get healthy. So far it’s all paid off.
“Every day has been an issue in terms of problems on the foot. Doubts still here … probably for the rest of my career,” Nadal said after the match, according to the Associated Press. “But for me it’s amazing … (to) just compete and play tennis at the high level again, facing the most important players of the world.”
Nadal currently has 20 Grand Slam titles, which is tied with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for the most ever among men. He is the only one of the three that participated in the 2022 Australian Open. Djokovic was deported after an 11-day visa ordeal revolving around Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements, while Federer is still recovering from knee surgery.
“To be able to be where I am today, I really can’t explain in words how important is for me in terms of energy, in terms of personal satisfaction, in terms of being very thankful,” Nadal added. “For me it’s something completely unexpected.”
If Nadal is able to secure a win in Sunday’s final, it would mark his first Grand Slam title since winning the 2020 French Open.