Twenty Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal is on the verge of overtaking rival Noval Djokovic after zooming into the semifinals of Aussie Open on Friday.
Both top players are tied on 20 Grand Slam and some had predicted that they might clash in the finals in Melbourne, unfortunately Serbian Djokovic was deported from Melbourne following vaccination row.
Nadal who had taken a swipe at Djokovic for refusing to cooperate in the vaccination brouhaha subdued Matteo Berrettini in their semi-final on Friday to eye all-round Grand Slam leader Sunday. Should Nadal clinch the title on Sunday he will equally be overtaking Roger Federer who was absent in Melbourne this year.
The 35-year-old Spanish great, seeded sixth, was too solid for the Italian seventh seed, winning 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in 2hr 55min, and will face either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final.
Nadal is level on 20 majors with his golden era rivals Novak Djokovic, who was deported on the eve of the tournament, and Roger Federer, who is absent with injury.
It gives the Spaniard an opportunity to go clear at the top and add to his lone 2009 Melbourne Park crown in his sixth Australian Open final.
“For me it’s all about the Australian Open more than anything else, it’s an amazing event,” Nadal said.
“I have been a little unlucky during my career with some injuries and I played in some amazing finals here with some good chances against Novak in 2012 and Roger 2017, I was close a couple of times.
“I feel very lucky that I won once in my career in 2009, but I never thought about another chance in 2022.
“So I’ll just try to enjoy today’s victory and try my best in the final.”
It has been an extraordinary effort from Nadal at the year’s opening major, having to modify his game to compensate for a degenerative bone disease in his left foot that ended his 2021 season last August.
Yet Nadal brushed aside Berrettini’s challenge with precision shot-making, while last year’s Wimbledon finalist could not overcome his sluggish start.
The stark statistic confronting Berrettini was that Nadal had never lost in his 20 Grand Slam semi-finals after leading by two sets.