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One of the Australian Open semi-finals has now been confirmed. On Friday, it will be a legend against one of the most promising talents in the men’s game. Of course, I’m talking about the clash between Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini. Both needed five sets in their quarter-final matches to make it to this stage. And interestingly, both of them blew a 2-0 set lead before wrapping things up in five.
However, at the end of the day, they have made it, and pundits are starting to weigh up the possible winner here. The two have played just once before, in the 2019 US Open. Nadal won this one in straight sets, but Berrettini is quite a different player than he was back then. So, who is going to emerge victorious here? Keep reading to find out.
Spain vs Italy – The Ultimate Winner and Why
In my personal opinion, I feel that this time around could be Berrettini. The young Italian has been playing some great tennis this tournament, and he has beaten two fantastic players in five sets en-route. But there are specific reasons as to why I’m leaning towards Berrettini over Nadal:
The Berrettini Serve
Berrettini has an absolutely enormous serve. He regularly hits his first serve at over 130mph, which ensures that he holds serve quite comfortably most of the time. If he doesn’t manage to sneak an ace, he then follows up his serve with a big first ball. This one-two combo is usually enough for Berrettini to keep the scoreboard ticking over nicely when serving. Of course, Nadal is also a great returner of serve. But if you watch him, he stands far back in the court, and Berrettini can counteract this by hitting the wide serve.
From what I’ve seen in his games against Monfils and Alcaraz, he is hitting the wide serve very well at the 2022 Australian Open.
Both Nadal and Berrettini have their own weapons. Nadal has great agility, he hits heavy from both wings, and he can crush a forehand when he wants to. But with that said, I feel that the Berrettini forehand could be enough to simply overpower Rafa out there on the Rod Laver Arena. That’s assuming he can get his forehand into play! However, I’ve watched Rafa in his last few matches, and I must say he has been dropping plenty of balls short. And a guy like Berrettini will pounce on those and crush the forehand.
Nadal Physical Condition
Nadal has dropped just three sets en-route to the semi-final. But in his quarter-final match against Shapovalov, he needed more than 4 hours to finish the young Canadian off. Berrettini also had a five-set match with Monfils, but it was roughly 20 minutes less than Nadal’s match. Of course, 20 minutes won’t make any difference, but Berrettini will recover better than Nadal I feel. It’s also important to remember that Nadal has only just returned from a crippling foot injury in the 2021 season.