Rafa Nadal stood one win away from a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title after overpowering Italian seventh seed Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 on Friday to reach the Australian Open final.
A win for the Spaniard in Sunday’s final against either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas will break a three-way tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and give him sole ownership of the record.
With rain bucketing down outside, the 35-year-old Nadal made a fast start under the closed roof of the Rod Laver Arena and took control by breaking Wimbledon finalist Berrettini’s serve early in each of the first two sets.
Nadal’s vicious top-spin forehand did most of the damage early on, pinning Berrettini down behind the baseline and leaving him very little time to produce his big groundstrokes.
“I started the match playing great. First two sets have been one of the best so far since a long time,” Nadal said on court.
“I know how good is Matteo. He’s a very solid player, very dangerous. In the third I knew at some point he’s gonna go for the shots.