MELBOURNE, Australia —Rafael Nadal moved within one match of a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam men’s singles title by defeating Matteo Berrettini of Italy, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, in the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Nadal, the 35-year-old Spanish star, is tied with his longtime rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the men’s record.
But neither Federer nor Djokovic played in this year’s tournament. Federer is still recovering from knee surgery and Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, was deported on the eve of the tournament after his visa was revoked by the Australian government and his appeal was rejected.
Nadal, the only member of the Big Three in Melbourne, has carried the torch surprisingly well after missing most of the second half of the 2021 season with a chronic foot problem that he said threatened his career. When he did return to action in late December for an exhibition in Abu Dhabi, he contracted Covid-19 and developed symptoms at home in Majorca, Spain before making the long trip to Australia.