TennisSection previews the 2022 Australian Open as Rafael Nadal takes on Matteo Berrettini in the semifinal on Friday, January 28th, 2022.
Will Rafael Nadal break the Australian Open curse in 2022? The Spaniard has stumbled multiple times in his quest to win a second title at Melbourne Park. But he is two wins away from achieving the double career Grand Slam. Could Matteo Berrettini inflict more punishment and delay another historic moment?
Rafael Nadal produced fluctuating brilliance to defeat the tenacious Denis Shapovalov and reached another semifinal at the Australian Open. The legendary Spaniard appeared in cruise control when established a two-sets-to-love lead against fellow lefty Shapovalov. But the Canadian southpaw clawed his way into the contest and forced a fifth set. Shapovalov though could not take advantage of momentum. He fired four unforced errors in the second game of the decider allowing Nadal to wrestle control of the match. And this time, there was no coming back.
Elsewhere, Matteo Berrettini survived his own five-setter against the resurgent Gael Monfils. In almost a mirror scoreline of the first quarterfinal, Berrettini withstood a spirited fight back from the Frenchman and regained his lead after throwing it away momentarily. It took three hours and 50 minutes for Berrettini to take down the World No. 20, firing 51 winners in total. Berrettini becomes the first Italian man to reach the Australian Open semifinals, and could still break new ground on Thursday when he takes on Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal leads Matteo Berrettini 1-0 in their head-to-head. Incidentally, that meeting came about at the 2019 US Open semifinals in which the legendary Spaniard triumphed in straight sets en route to winning the title. There is the likelihood of history repeating itself, but also the possibility of Nadal falling. Berrettini is playing well again after an indifferent start to the tournament, and he is also feeling healthy. Nadal, in contrast, came to Australia following a six-month injury layoff with a major question mark surrounding his form and fitness. Although he has returned to action with aplomb, he is yet to test himself against a Top 10 player. We saw shades of Rafa’s struggles against Shapolvalov – the highest-ranked player he has faced since the turn of the year. Berrettini has improved immeasurably from their last meeting, and his backhand slice is no longer an area of weakness. I think Nadal will come through this in 4 tight sets, but if we see a situation where this goes the distance, don’t count Berrettini out.
Free Tennis Pick and Prediction: Rafael Nadal in 4 Sets.
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