DAfter the storm came calm. As he had anticipated after his five-set victory against Denis Shapovalov, accompanied by heat stroke, Rafael Nadal took Wednesday off. He has a few hours left to prepare for the semifinal that he will measure against Matteo Berrettini next morning. The manager, at 35 years old, pays attention to the signals that his body sends him, the same that two months ago he did not guarantee his continuity in the racket sport due to a chronic injury to his left foot.
Nadal will face each other again three seasons later with Berrettini. Far in time is the semifinal of the US Open with an Italian who appeared in society and occupied the twenty-fifth place in the world ranking. Today is the seventh and could snatch the fifth place from the Spanish in case of defeating him.
Rafa, who had never before spent so much time in Melbourne -he adds 28 days- has gone from less to more in his tennis and in the size of his opponents. He conquered the 250 category tournament in the capital of Victoria without facing anyone lower than 90th place. In the big one he has ended the resistance of Marcos Giron (66), Yannick Hanfmann (126), Karen Khachanov (30), Adrian Mannarino (69) and Denis Shapovalov (14).
This time, the final test comes before a top10. The last time the manacor beat one of the top 10 in the Australian major was Milos Raonic (3) in the quarterfinals of the 2017 edition. And the last time he beat someone from the elite was in the penultimate round of Roland Garros 2021 as Diego Schwartzman’s executioner.
Berrettini, who has left the Spaniards Carlos Alcaraz and Pablo Carreo behind, has something in common with Nadal: both share a doctor in the figure of Ángel Ruiz Cotorro. It is worth remembering the problems that persecute the Roman in his abdominal area and that already forced him to leave in the last edition of the Open and in the last Turin Masters Cup.
Matteo, based in Florida, reflects the long-term work that the Tennis Federation of his country has carried out, bringing together many minor tournaments to train their talents. His three major semifinals tie him with Adriano Panatta. Only Nicola Pietrangeli was more consistent with five times in the top four.
Two months ago I did not know if I could play tennis again and it is a gift of life to be able to be here
Nadal has starred in his umpteenth triumphant return after doubting his continuity on the professional circuit. “Two months ago I didn’t know if I could play tennis again and it is a gift of life to be able to be here. In the last six months, I have had many doubts as to whether I could continue. But now I feel good”, warns the champion of 20 majors, who is two wins away from breaking the tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in that section.
“The fact that we are tied at 20, all it says is that we share an incredible part of our sport’s history, and it’s a real honor for me to be a part of it. I don’t think my future happiness is going to depend on whether I achieve one Grand Slam more than the others or if the others achieve more Grand Slams than me”, he reflects.
The fact that we are tied at 20, it only says that we share an incredible part of the history of our sport, and for me it is a true honor to be part of it.
Whatever happens in Australia, the Spaniard already knows that he is still competitive. It remains to climb the last step marked by the top 10 as Berrettini (7), Daniil Medvedev (2) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (4). The three will be found in March at the Acapulco tournament.
WHERE TO FOLLOW THE MEETING
You can also follow the match live on Radio MARCA and MARCA.COM, where all the information about the match and the rest of the tournament will also be offered.