Rafael Nadal: Today's the day to play my best

Updated: Sep 08, 2019, 07:39 IST | AFP

Rampant Rafael Nadal all geared up to chase his 19th Grand Slam title in a showdown against Daniil Medvedev.

Rafael Nadal: Today's the day to play my best
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal will play for his 19th Grand Slam title, one shy of Roger Federer's all-time men's record, after battling past Italy's Matteo Berrettini on Friday and into his fifth US Open final.

The Spaniard dispatched Berrettini 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-1 at Arthur Ashe Stadium to reach a Sunday showdown against Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, who ousted Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-3.

"Very happy to be back into the final of the US Open," Nadal said. "It means a lot to be back where I am today after some tough moments at the beginning of the season."

Nadal, who shook off an early season right hip injury to win a 12th French Open title, seeks his fourth US Open crown — one short of the Open-era record of five shared by Federer, Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors — to reach the brink of Federer's mark.

"It's just another chance on Sunday," Nadal said. "I want to enjoy a day off, have a good practice and Sunday is the day to play my best."

'Solid player'

Nadal, into his 27th Grand Slam final, beat Medvedev in last month's Montreal final in their only prior meeting. But the World No. 2 skipped Cincinnati, where Medvedev was champion the following week. "He's one of the more solid players on tour," Nadal said of Medvedev. "He's making steps forward every single week. I need to be playing at my best."

Nadal has dropped only one set at the Open but was severely tested by 24th seed Berrettini, the first Italian man in the US Open semi-finals since Corrado Barazzutti in 1977. Berrettini denied Nadal on six break points in the first set, jumped ahead 4-0 in the tie-break and seized two set points at 6-4 as the Ashe crowd roared with delight.

Nadal lucky

"I was lucky to win that first set," Nadal said. "First set had been a little bit frustrating. You don't want to be in a tie-breaker against a player like Matteo after you have missed all those opportunities."

Nadal, who never faced a break point, took his first break for a 4-3 lead in the second set, held twice to take the set, then rolled to victory in two hours, 35 minutes. "I survived at the moment and finally I had the break in the second set and the match changed," Nadal said. "I played calm more and super aggressive."

Paths to the final

Rafael Nadal

1st rd: bt John Millman (AUS) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
2nd rd: bt Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) walkover
3rd rd: bt Chung Hyeon (KOR) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
4th rd: bt Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
QF: bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-4, 7-5, 6-2
SF: bt Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-1

Head-to-head
Nadal 1:0 Medvedev

2019 ATP titles
Nadal: 3
Medvedev: 2

Daniil Medvedev

1st rd: bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
2nd rd: bt Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3
3rd rd: bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 7-6 (7/1), 4-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-4
4th rd: bt Dominik Koepfer (GER) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2)
QF: bt Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1
SF: bt Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-3

2019 win-loss record

Nadal: 46-6
Medvedev: 49-16

Also read: Rafael Nadal: I'm in good shape

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