Rafa Nadal during his game against Matteo Berrettini in the Australian Open semi-final. / AFP

Nadal defeats Berrettini and will fight for his 21st Grand Slam title

The Spaniard defeated the Italian (6-3, 6-2, 3-6 and 6-3) and will play his sixth Australian Open final

ENRIC GARDINER

Rafa Nadal will play in the Australian Open final after defeating Italian Matteo Berrettini (6-3, 6-2, 3-6 and 6-3) in the semi-final this Friday morning. The Spaniard will hope to win his 21st Grand Slam title and become the first tennis player to do so.

Since his epic win in 2009 against Roger Federer, Nadal has gone on to play four more times in Australian Open final (2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019). But he lost on all occasions. Sunday's match will be a chance for Nadal to redeem himself and to also become the second tennis player - after Novak Djokovic - to win a double Grand Slam.

Berrettini proved to be the last barrier before Nadal's chance to win the Australian Open. The Italian stands tall at 1.96m, with an explosive right-hander and a lethal serve. Though his nerves seemed to get the better of him, as he has lost all seven Grand Slam matches played against the top ten.

Nadal knew this and exposed his opponent in the opening two sets, exploiting Berrettini's backhand, which he used more as a defensive resource than an offensive one. The Spaniard hardly struggled, except for a hiccup in the eighth game of the fourth set, where it seemed Berrettini was going to put up more of a fight and prolong the match. But Nadal quickly put an end to that attempt.

"I've got a Grand Slam on the line on Sunday, but I don't know if it'll be my last chance to win one," Nadal said. "People are debating about me being the best [tennis player] in history. It would be an important step in my career, but going from 20 to 21 [Grand Slams] won't change much. It would be very nice and very important, but it won't change my life," he said.

The Australian Open final, which will be played at 7.30pm local time (9.30am Spanish time), could be a historic day for the Mallorcan. He has never been one title away from overtaking both Djokovic and Federer. neither of whom could not play in this tournament.