Australian Open Day 12: Rafael Nadal, a win from history, to face Daniil Medvedev in men's final

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Rafael Nadal is one win from history.

The sixth-seeded Nadal defeated seventh-seeded Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the Australian Open semifinals. With a victory over second-seeded Daniil Medvedev — a 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 winner over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the other semifinal — in Sunday's final, Nadal will earn a record 21st career Grand Slam men's singles title.

Nadal is currently tied with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic with 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

Sunday's match will be a rematch of the 2019 U.S. Open final, where Nadal won a five-set thriller over Medvedev. Nadal has won three of his four career matches against Medvedev.

Nadal surges past Berrettini

It's been a long road to get to this point for Nadal, who dealt with a foot injury and COVID-19 before shutting things down last August until a tune-up tournament before the Australian Open, which he won. Now, Nadal has won six in a row at this major championship and has a chance at history.

"A month and a half ago I didn’t know if I would be able to play tennis," Nadal said after his victory over Berrettini. "So it doesn’t matter, I just wanted to enjoy it and try my best."

Nadal had a pretty enjoyable first two sets, breaking Berrettini's opening service game of each.

But Berrettini responded by winning the third set to make things interesting. Nadal, who needed five sets to finish off Denis Shapovalov two days earlier in the quarterfinals, responded by winning the fourth set to take the semifinal match in just less than three hours.

After the win, Nadal tried to downplay the significance of Sunday's final.

"For me it's all about the Australian Open more than anything else," said Nadal, who is looking for his second Australian Open men's singles title. "It's just an amazing event. ... I feel very lucky that I won it once in my career in 2009, but I never thought about another chance in 2022."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 28: Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after winning his Men's Singles semifinal match against Matteo Berrettini of Italy during day twelve of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal defated Matteo Berrettini to reach the Australian Open final, where he could win a historic 21st Grand Slam title,. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Medvedev comes alive after epic rant

In the later semifinal match, Medvedev needed 49 minutes to take the first set in the tiebreaker after he was unable to break Tsitsipas at 4-4 despite having four break points.

Tsitsipas, however, responded by winning the second set in which Medvedev accused Tsitsipas' father of coaching his son from his seat at Rod Laver Arena — and Medvedev let the umpire know it.

The incident happened after Tsitsipas broke Medvedev for the first time to take a 5-4 lead.

"Are you mad? Are you mad? His father can coach every point?" said Medvedev, who slammed the "low I.Q. crowd" during his victory over Nick Kyrgios earlier at the Australian Open. "Are you stupid? His father can talk every point? His father can talk every point? Answer my question. Will you answer my question? Can his father talk every point?"

Medvedev was given a violation for his outburst, and he went on to lose the set 6-4.

After taking a five-minute break, Medvedev returned with a vengeance. He converted a service break late to win the third set before dominating in the fourth, capturing the final five games to advance to the final against Nadal.

Medvedev was swept in last year's final by Djokovic — who couldn't play here this year after his well-publicized visa/vaccination saga — but he gets another shot this year against Nadal in a match everyone will want to see.

Even Djokovic, says Medvedev.

"I think Novak will be watching this one in two days also," Medvedev said in his post-match, on-court interview. "Grand Slam finals are special."

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