Australian Open Final Four: It's Nadal v Berrettini and Medvedev v Tsitsipas

MELBOURNE, Australia — None of the men’s singles semi-finalists australian open has rendered him so far unscathed. All have been pushe...

MELBOURNE, Australia — None of the men’s singles semi-finalists australian open has rendered him so far unscathed.

All have been pushed to five sets in the heat at Melbourne Park this year.

Rafael Nadal, making his latest comeback, lost more than 10 pounds and struggled with nausea and dizziness in his toasty and tense win over Canada’s Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday at Rod Laver Arena. Russia’s Daniil Medvedev had to save a match point at the same stadium on Wednesday before prevailing against Shapovalov’s compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime in an after midnight thriller.

Matteo Berrettini was pushed to the limit twice: by Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz and French veteran Gaël Monfils. Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas had to rally to get away from American Taylor Fritz.

But after Medvedev’s entertaining escape from a two-set deficit in the quarter-finals, the final four are set, and it’s a roster with true star power if, for now, only one real tennis great. .

It’s Nadal, 35, who is set to overtake his longtime measuring sticks Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic with a 21st Grand Slam singles title but, as usual, talks about the destination and promotes travel.

“I’m super satisfied and I feel very lucky in general for all the things that happen to me in this life, right?” Nadal said, looking drawn but satisfied after beating Shapovalov. “You can’t always be frustrated if the neighbor has a bigger house than you or a better phone or a better thing, right? I won’t be frustrated if Novak or Roger end their careers with more Grand Slams than me.”

Nadal, it must be said, has many beautiful things, including one million dollar watch and an 80ft yacht named “Great White”, but he clearly still wants to spend more time in the field. Otherwise, why would he spend months recovering from the chronic foot disease that first threatened his career in his early 20s? Otherwise, why would he make the trip to Melbourne when he fell ill with coronavirus in late December?

The love of the game remains, and he could get a lot more court time (and challenge) in his semi-final duel with Berrettini, the 6-foot-6 Italian whose forehand is almost as heavy as that of Nadal.

They only played once. Nadal won in straight sets in the semi-finals of the 2019 US Open, the last Grand Slam tournament won by Nadal on a hard court. But Berrettini, 25, is now an established threat at major tournaments after reaching the Wimbledon final last year.

“I watch him so many times in this tournament and other tournaments, cheering him on,” Berrettini said of Nadal. “Playing him in Rod Laver in the semi-finals is something I dreamed of as a kid.”

But the dream now is not to play him but to beat him.

“I know I can do it,” Berrettini said at a late night press conference this week. “It’s going to be very difficult, but I’m in the semi-finals of a Slam for the third time, as you said, so that means it’s my level, and I want to go further.”

Berrettini is the first Italian to reach a singles semi-final at the Australian Open and will remain the only one until at least next year. Fellow 20-year-old redhead Jannik Sinner was no match for Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Tsitsipas, a 23-year-old right-hander returning from minor offseason elbow surgery on his playing arm, looked under par in the early rounds as he mistimed his groundstrokes. But he kicked into high gear against Sinner: dominating with his versatile and powerful forehand, one of the best shots in the game. He converted all four break points, didn’t face a break point on his own serve and adapted beautifully to Sinner’s base pace to win, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Afterwards, he thanked his surgeon in Switzerland.

“He texted me after every game,” Tsitsipas said. “We didn’t think I would play the Australian Open.”

Playing like that again in the final rounds would likely win him the Australian Open, where he emerged in earnest in 2019 by upsetting Federer, whose fluid athleticism, all-court play and one-handed backhand have influenced the similar game of Tsitsipas.

But to reach the final, Tsitsipas must complete what appears to be the toughest mission Melbourne has left. He must defeat Medvedev, the lanky 25-year-old Russian with an unorthodox style, who is closing in on Djokovic’s No. 1 ranking after beating him in the 2021 US Open final.

Medvedev and Tsitsipas – ranked No. 2 and No. 4 respectively – both leaders of the new wave, had a cold relationship on tour and admitted it. But they warmed up to each other when they played the Laver Cup for Team Europe in Boston last year.

“It kind of got better after the Laver Cup,” Tsitsipas said. “We haven’t really spoken in the last two months, but our relationship is a competition on the pitch and a kind of fight for the same dream.”

Medvedev leads their head-to-head series 6-2 and is 4-0 against Tsitsipas on outdoor hard courts, the Australian Open surface. But Medvedev, who lost to Djokovic in the final at Melbourne Park last year, came within a point of elimination on Wednesday against the dynamic and inspired Auger-Aliassime.

Medvedev had beaten him in his previous three matches dropping just one set. But he lost the first two sets in the quarter-finals as he proved less reliable than usual in their extended and often spectacular baseline rallies and struggled to read and return big serves from ‘Auger-Aliassime.

They were quite contrasting. Medvedev played his service games at a blistering pace, often taking less than 10 seconds between points. Auger-Aliassime was measured on his service games, typically using the full 25 seconds. His technique is classic, with fluid strokes and follow-ups. Medvedev’s is 100% homemade, with his long limbs flying in all sorts of seemingly sub-optimal directions, but his ball-striking so clean and devastating.

He’s full of big-point confidence after winning his first major in New York, and he needed it on Wednesday when he faced match point on his serve at 4-5, 30-40 in the fourth set after a double fault.

He saved it by ripping a wide first serve that Auger-Aliassime couldn’t handle and then carried the momentum to victory.

He was also lucky, getting a boost earlier in the match when play was stopped to close the Laver Arena retractable roof due to rain in the third-set tiebreaker. Conditions were considerably cooler with the top down and, Medvedev acknowledged, more to his liking.

But inside or out, it was a tense one-game thriller, the one that ninth-seeded Auger-Aliassime came so close to winning.

“I think he was just a little more clutch than me, a little more solid at times,” said Auger-Aliassime, who was broken in the third game of the fifth set and failed to convert any of his sixes. breaking points in this set.

Medvedev looked wild on the stretch: bursting with energy and feeding off the crowd. After his comeback was complete, commentator Jim Courier asked him on the pitch how he turned the game around.

“I didn’t really know what to do,” he replied. “So I don’t know if people will like it but I thought, ‘What would Novak do?'”

There was a chorus of boos from the largely Australian crowd at the mention of Djokovic, the unvaccinated serbian star who was expelled from the country on the eve of the tournament after his visa was revoked and his appeal dismissed.

Medvedev is generally unaffected by the crowd’s disapproval – see the US Open 2019 – but he took diplomatic cover this time: Quickly mentioning “Rafa” and “Roger” as potential influences as well, and receiving encouragement for his efforts.

But Djokovic, popular or not, is the champion that Medvedev channeled in Melbourne.

“During all the games, as soon as I was a little down, I was like, ‘Be like Novak. Show him you’re better,” he said in reference to his opposition.

So far, that has been just enough for Medvedev, the tournament’s highest male seed. Nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic would have been seeded No. 1. Although his absence affected the competitive balance, it didn’t stop this tournament from providing plenty of entertainment and a worthy finale. four.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Australian Open Final Four: It's Nadal v Berrettini and Medvedev v Tsitsipas
Australian Open Final Four: It's Nadal v Berrettini and Medvedev v Tsitsipas
Newsrust - US Top News
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