Rafael Nadal reaches Australian Open final, within 1 win of record Breaking

Rafael Nadal reaches Australian Open final, within 1 win of record Breaking
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Matteo Berrettini of Italy in their semifinal match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal is now within one victory of a record 21st Grand Slam singles title.

The 35-year-old Spaniard advanced to the Australian Open final for a sixth time with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win Friday over Matteo Berrettini.

He arrived in Australia not knowing how long he’d last after months of the tour recovering from injuries and then a bout of COVID-19.

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He won a title at a tune-up tournament and now has won six matches at the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.

One more and he’ll break record of 20 majors he shared with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. He’ll also become just the fourth man in history to win all four of the Grand Slam titles at least twice.

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In the championship match on Sunday, he will play the winner of the later semifinal between U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Nadal’s win over Berrettini, under a closed roof at Rod Laver Arena because of heavy local rain, was his 500th on hard courts at tour level. He’s only won the title at the Australian Open only once, in 2009.

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Adding a second was his only focus after yet another semifinal win.

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