Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini
Rafael Nadal is two matches away from getting the jump on golden era rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to become all-time Grand Slam leader as the Australian Open gets down to the Last 4 on Friday.
The Spanish gladiator has Italian power server Matteo Berrettini to overcome to get through to Sunday's final against second seed Daniil Medvedev or No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in his quest for a 21st major title. Nadal had modest expectations resuming after a three-and-a-half-month lay-off with a chronic foot injury at the end of last season. But a combination of nine-time winner Djokovic's dramatic deportation on the eve of the tournament over vaccination issues and World No.3 Alexander Zverev's shock fourth round exit has cleared Nadal's path to the top-half semi-final.
Meanwhile, Medvedev, the tournament favourite, needs to recuperate before facing Tsitsipas after two long, torrid examinations just to get to the semi-finals. He is hoping there is enough petrol left in the tank to go on and win his second major title after last year's success over Djokovic at the US Open.
Medvedev was kept on court for 3hr 30min before dousing American serve-volleyer Maxime Cressy over four sets. Then was taken to the brink by Canada's ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in a five-set quarter-final that ebbed for 4hr 42min before finishing past midnight on Wednesday.