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Australian Open | Nadal and Medvedev line up for Aussie final.

The Australian Open, the first grand slam of the season, is down to the last two, the man who from the start, has been the title favourite, and the only man who has previously won the event who in turn, if successful, could rewrite the tennis history books.

So I'll just try to enjoy today's victory and try my best in the final. It means a lot to me to be in the final again here Rafa Nadal

Daniil Medvedev and Rafa Nadal came through two tough semi-finals to progress into the championship round and both players will enjoy a day off to recover and re-energise for what could well be a classic title match on Sunday.

Medvedev, the second seed, playing Stefanos Tsitsipas in the evening slot, finally established himself over the fourth seeded Greek in the fourth set when he reeled off the last five consecutive games to win 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 in what was a heated clash lasting two-hours and 42-minutes.

The 25-year-old Russian, who is bidding to win his second grand slam title having collected the US Open crown last September, should have his hands full when he takes on the 20-time grand slam champion from Spain who is on the verge of making history by becoming the first male player to hit the 21 mark!

With both players matching each other on serve, Medvedev recovered from a mini-break down in the tie-break to pocket the tightly contested opener only to fall behind in the second.

Having dropped his serve for the first time in the match and fall 5-4 behind in the second, he yelled at the chair umpire demanding that Tsitsipas be cautioned for receiving coaching from his father in the crowd.

That was ignored and Tsitsipas levelled at a set-all at which point Medvedev took a five-minute break to calm down, returning to the fray much more composed and focused.

He converted a crucial service break late in the third set and then strung together the last five games to wrap it up.

Medvedev had also beaten Tsitsipas in last year’s semi-finals at Melbourne Park before losing to Novak Djokovic in the final.

Daniil Medvedev argues with the umpire during his semi-final

Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

But that outburst at the umpire late in the second is being viewed by many as being the turning point in the match as he released all his frustrations.

It followed a double fault to drop serve and trail 5-4 and a warning for a visible obscenity from umpire Jaume Campistol, resulting in Medvedev screaming at the official.

“His father can talk every point,” yelled the Russian. “Are you stupid? I’m talking to you, look at me. How can you be so bad in the semi-final of a grand slam?”

After Tsitsipas clinched the set, Medvedev had more words with Campistol regarding his coaching complaints, ending by calling the official a “small cat”.

“I think we can say it was funny, but I was definitely out of my mind,” said Medvedev later when asked about the incident.

“I was not controlling myself any more about anything, and that’s actually why I’m really happy to win, because many matches like this I would go on just to do mistakes, because you lose your concentration a lot when you get in these heat-of-the-moment things.

“The next game, 15-40, I started terrible. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m just completely losing the fibre of this match’. I’m so happy that I managed to catch it really fast.”

The list of matches in which Medvedev has lost his cool is a long one, and the 25-year-old insisted it is something he is trying to improve.

“I regret it all the time because I don’t think it’s nice,” he said. “I know that every referee is trying to do their best.

“But tennis, we don’t fight with the fists, but tennis is a fight. It’s a one-on-one against another player. So I’m actually really respectful to players who almost never show their emotions because it’s tough. I can get really emotional. I have been working on it.

“So many, many matches, I handle it. I think if we look back at myself five years ago when I started playing, there was less attention on me, but I was just insanely crazy. So I do regret it 100 per cent but, in the heat of the moment, I just lost it.”

Asked about Medvedev’s rant, Tsitsipas said with a faint grin: “It’s for sure funny. I don’t pay attention. I know players like to do this stuff to throw you off mentally. Could be maybe a tactic. It’s all right. He’s not the most mature person anyways.”

Earlier in the day Nadal was in dominant form as he beat the powerful Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 after two-hours and 55-minutes.

With the roof closed on the Rod Laver Arena because of heavy local rain, and the subsequent high humidity in the building, the ball was heavy and flat, helping Nadal keep the ball in play. Nearly all of the long rallies in the first two sets went the sixth-seeded Spanish left-hander’s way.

But the seventh seeded Berrettini turned it around midway through the third set when in the eighth game he established a 5-3 lead to send the match into a fourth set when he served out in the next.

But Nadal overcame that minor hiccup by regaining control when he broke Berrettini’s serve in the eighth game of the fourth and then held to clinch the match and a place in the final which he celebrated by pumping his arm three times at his achievement.

Rafael Nadal pumps his arm in celebration at reaching the final

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Of all the grand slam, Nadal has found winning the Melbourne possible the toughest having made six finals but winning only once, in 2009.

“For me it’s all about the Australian Open more than anything else, it’s an amazing event,” Nadal said on reaching the final.

“I have been a little unlucky during my career with some injuries and I played in some amazing finals here with some good chances against Novak in 2012 and Roger 2017, I was close a couple of times.

“I feel very lucky that I won once in my career in 2009, but I never thought about another chance in 2022.

“So I’ll just try to enjoy today’s victory and try my best in the final.

“It means a lot to me to be in the final again here.

“I started the match playing great, the first two sets were one my best for a long time, and I knew Matteo was a very solid player, very dangerous, and I knew at some point in the third set he was going to go for his shots,” Nadal, who is now unbeaten in 10 matches to start the 2022 season after winning a warmup event in Melbourne, added.

An exciting final on Sunday is on the cards with so much at stake.



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