New York: Rafa Nadal moved to the brink of a 19th career Grand Slam title Friday by beating Matteo Berrettini 7-6(8-6), 6-4 6-1 to reach the final of the US Open tennis tournament.
Rafa Nadal put pressure on the underdog Italian’s serve from the start but Berrettini saved six breakpoints to set up a first set tie-breaker. Berrettini raced out to a 4-0 lead thanks to some uncharacteristically sloppy play from the Spaniard and the 23-year-old had two set points at 4-6.
However, the Italian suddenly got tight and Nadal took advantage, wearing him down in the extended baseline rallies and capturing the set when the Italian sent a forehand long for his 20th unforced error, leading Nadal to let out a roar.
Rafa Nadal then broke Berrettini on his 10th opportunity to take a 4-3 lead in the second set and cruised to the finish, absorbing Berrettini’s powerful forehands and redirecting them to his weaker backhand side to see off the first time Grand Slam semifinalist.
“The first set was a little bit frustrating because I had a lot of breakpoints and you don’t want to be in a tie-break against a player like Matteo,” Nadal said after the game. “I survived that moment and finally I had the break … I think I started to play with more calm and was more aggressive. I just tried to stay focused on the next point,” added the Spaniard.
Next up for Nadal is a showdown with big-serving Russian Daniil Medvedev, who was a straight sets winner over Grigor Dimitrov earlier in the day. The pair’s only previous meeting took place in the final of last month’s Rogers Cup in Montreal, where Nadal was a 6-3, 6-0 winner.
“He’s (Medvedev) one of the more solid players on tour,” Nadal said of the 23-year-old, who will be appearing in his fourth consecutive final and first at a Grand Slam.
Earlier in the day Medvedev grinded out a 7-6(7-5), 6-4, 6-3 win over Grigor Dimitrov in their semifinal clash.
Medvedev has had a complicated relationship with the Flushing Meadows crowds, who cast him as a US Open bad boy following some on-court antics, but the fifth seeded Russian has been as good as gold where it matters — on the scoreboard.
The first Russian man to reach a Grand Slam final since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open, Medvedev however, will have his task cut out when he faces Nadal.
With both men fighting for a spot in their first Grand Slam final, every point was contested as if a trophy were riding on it, particularly in a tense opening set that stretched to an hour before Medvedev snatched it in a tie-break.