Rafael Nadal returns to Matteo Berrettini during their Australian Open semis. Pics/AFP
Daniil Medvedev won a tempestuous Australian Open semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday and will face Rafael Nadal, who is bidding to become the all-time men's Grand Slam leader, in Sunday's final.
World No.2 Medvedev beat fourth-ranked Tsitsipas 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 to reach his second straight Australian Open final. Earlier, the Spanish great powered past the Italian seventh seed Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Nadal is level on 20 majors with his golden era rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
It gives the Spaniard an opportunity to go clear at the top in Sunday's final and add to his lone 2009 Melbourne Park crown in his sixth Australian Open final. Medvedev is shooting for back-to-back major titles after upsetting Djokovic in last year's US Open final.
Daniil Medvedev returns to Stefanos Tsitsipas
Like in New York last September, when he stopped Djokovic from completing a calendar Grand Slam of titles, Medvedev will be trying to derail Nadal's tilt at making men's tennis history. "I'm going to play against one of the greatest and someone going for the 21st Slam. I'm ready," Medvedev said.
But Nadal said the Australian Open title meant more to him than a record 21 career Grand Slams. "For me at the end, it's about more than all these statistics, it's about being in the final of the Australian Open one more time. That means a lot to me," Nadal said.
"To me, it's more important to be in the final of the Australian Open and fight to win another Australian Open than the rest of the statistics for the history of the sport. "I just feel happy to be part of this amazing era of tennis, sharing all these things with another two players. That's it. In some ways, it doesn't matter if somebody achieve one more or one less."
It has been an extraordinary effort from Nadal at the year's opening major, having to modify his game to compensate for a degenerative bone disease in his left foot that ended his 2021 season last August. He then caught Covid in December which, he said, made him "very sick".
Stefanos Tsitsipas said he has spent "countless hours" talking with his father-coach Apostolos over coaching violations after yet another warning helped trigger a semi-final collapse against Daniil Medvedev on Friday. In a tempestuous match, Medvedev was given a code warning after raging at the chair umpire about coaching from the player's box and later Apostolos Tsitsipas was given a warning for coaching his son. The intervention did not help Tsitsipas who dropped five straight games to sink without trace in the fourth set.