Nadal meets Medvedev in history-Australia final

Melbourne, Australia — Rafael Nadal is within one win of the men’s 21st Grand Slam singles title.

He will have to defeat Daniil Medvedev, the second seeded in the Australian Open final on Sunday, to make history. And Medvedev is chasing part of his own history after defeating Stefanos Chitispas 7–6 (5), 4–6, 6–4, 6–1 in the heated semifinals on Friday. .. The US Open Champion aims to be the first man to win his second Grand Slam title in the next major tournament of the open era.

Nadal advances to Australia’s sixth final with 6–3, 6–2, 3–6 and 6–3 wins in an almost biased contest with Matteo Berrettini, the first seven seeds of the men’s semifinals. I did.

Medvedev showed a more intense and challenging run to play the Australian Open finals in a row. He had to deal with hostile crowds in his second round victory over Nick Kyrgios, save match points, rally from two sets and defeat Felix Auger Aliassime in nearly five hours in the quarterfinals. .. Then he had to regain his composure after an outburst of anger in the second set of the semifinals.

The Russians yelled at the referee chief Jaume Campistol at the change bar after double-faulting to allow a break in the second half, and the code of obscenity visible when using his arms to gesture to the crowd of pro-Chichipas. Note that his opponent who got the breach and requested it will be coached by his father (Greek) from the stand.

Medvedev returned after Tsitsipas converted a third setpoint to level the match. He once again urged the referee to give the French Open runner-up a code violation.

He then took a five-minute break, took control in the second half of the third set, and played the final five games after Tsitsipas was finally warned of coaching.

Daniil Medvedev
Russia’s Daniil Medvedev reacts after winning his third set against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals of the Australian Open Tennis Championships on January 28, 2022 in Melbourne. (AndyBrownbill / AP Photo)

Nadal’s participation in the 29th Grand Slam final was relatively mild.

After the last point, he stopped, gave off a wide grin, and then punched the air three times.

Nadal arrived in Australia without knowing how long it would last after a few months off the tour to deal with a serious leg injury and a subsequent bout of COVID-19. After losing to Novak Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals, he skipped Wimbledon and didn’t play at all after August.

“Every day is a problem when it comes to foot problems. I still have questions here … probably for the rest of my career,” Nadal said. “But it’s amazing to me … () I just face the most important players in the world and compete and play tennis again at a high level.”

Last month he wasn’t even sure if he could return to the tour. However, he won the tune-up tournament in Melbourne and played six games in a row at the first Grand Slam event of the year.

Another, he breaks the record of 20 major championships shared with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Nadal will also be the fourth man to win all four Grand Slam titles at least twice.

It was his 500th tour-level hardcourt that Nadal defeated Wimbledon runner-up Berrettini under the closed roof of Rod Laver Arena due to heavy rain.

However, he won the Australian Open only once in 2009, and his second addition was his main focus.

“For me, it’s more about the Australian Open,” Nadal said in an interview on the court. “I was a little unlucky (here) and injured. I played some great finals with a chance.”

He lost to Djokovic in 2012 and Federer in 2017 in the classic five-set final at Melbourne Park. Nadal lost to Stan Wawrinka in 2014 and Djokovic three years ago.

“I’m very lucky to win once,” he said. “I never thought about another opportunity in 2022.”

Nadal broke Berrettini’s opening service game in the first two sets, dropped the third set due to a rare service expiration, and then rallyed to finish the match in less than three hours. It was a relief in itself after his long quarter-final victory over Denis Shapovalov.

Nadal was the only member of the so-called Big Three, who had a chance to break the deadlock in Australia this time.

Federer is out while recovering from knee surgery. Djokovic, who won nine Grand Slam titles at Melbourne Park, was deported after an 11-day visa saga on the eve of the tournament because he failed to meet Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

“To be able to be where I am today, I explain in words how important it is to me in terms of energy, in terms of personal satisfaction, and in terms of being very grateful. You can’t do that, “Nadal said. “For me, that’s totally unexpected.”

He said he’s now taking a different approach to life, but not at the time of the game.

“Of course, I’m always competitive, because I can’t oppose it. It’s my personal DNA,” he said. “But in a way, I don’t know. Who I am and can have the opportunity to compete at this level is a positive energy for me to continue.”

Medevedev needs to take a gentler approach after defeating Tsitsipas in the semifinals at Melbourne Park for the second year in a row. He lost to Djokovic in last year’s final, but defeated No. 1 in the US Open title.

He said he regretted the umpire’s explosion, explaining that it was in the midst of a very emotional tournament moment.

“I’m going to play one of the best players again,” Medvedev said of Sunday’s final. “Again, I’m going to play someone going to the 21st slam. I’m ready.”

John Pai

Associated Press