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'I'm feeling good': Nadal in 'good shape' ahead of US Open semi-final against Berrettini

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 6 Sep 2019
  • Rafael Nadal says he is in good shape ahead of his US Open semi-final against Italian young gun, Matteo Berrettini
  • Nadal vs Berrettini is live from New York on Friday, 6 September from 6:00pm local time/ 11:00pm BST
Rafael Nadal. (PA Sport)

A year after retiring from the semi-finals of the US Open, Rafael Nadal is back into the last four at Flushing Meadows, with the great Spaniard seeking a fifth final in New York.

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Nadal has had his problems on hard courts over the years, with the surface, more than any other, challenging his body. The Spaniard competed in just three hard court tournaments last season, winning one- Toronto; and retiring from the other two- semi-finals of the Australian Open and the US Open.

He has not been without his problems on the surface this season, as he pulled out of a scheduled semi-final against Roger Federer at Indian Wells due to a knee complaint, and subsequently pulled out of the Miami Open. The 33-year-old also skipped Cincinnati, but that was more to rest his body than injury-enforced, as he had just retained his Rogers Cup title in Montreal. 

It is quite amazing to note that prior to this year's Rogers Cup, Nadal had never successfully defended a title on hard courts.

Leading up to his retirement in last year's US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro, Nadal had been involved in several long, physical duels, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili and Karen Khachanov in four sets, and Dominic Thiem in an epic five-set quarter final; but he has had a less challenging path to the semis this year, and, as he claims, is in good shape heading into Friday's semi-final against Matteo Berrettini. 

He required some medical attention in the final set of his straight sets victory over Diego Schwartzman on Wednesday night, but the Spaniard played down the problem, dismissing it as just cramps.

“I'm feeling good. Today [against Schwartzman] was very humid day, very heavy day. I had some cramps in the end of the second, and, yeah, first five games, six games of the third”. 
“And then I take some salt, that's all, and then was over. Well, the body is in good shape, I think. No, not big problems. Need to go to sleep. But I really believe that I going to be in good shape”.

Nadal has dropped just the one set- against Marin Cilic in the fourth round- in reaching the semi-finals. He scored straight set victories over John Millman and Hyeon Chung, either side of a walkover against Thanasi Kokkinakis, who withdrew from their scheduled second round meeting due to a shoulder injury. He then took out Cilic in four, bouncing back strongly from the loss of the second set to power past the Croatian.

The luck of the draw has definitely been with Nadal in the 2019 US Open, and he has made the most of a disintegrating bottom half. Thiem and Khachanov, both of whom troubled him last year, fell in first round, while other potential dangers, including Nick Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev all lost before the quarter finals.

That has left him with Grand Slam rookie, Matteo Berrettini as the last men standing in the bottom half of the US Open men's singles draw.

And if he makes the final, he won't be facing Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer, as the draw initially projected, but instead, Daniil Medvedev or Grigor Dimitrov, neither of whom had ever been to a major final.

Nadal has never been one to take any opponent lightly, and he will definitely be giving semi-final opponent, Berrettini his due respect for what he has achieved not just in this tournament, but also in a very impressive 2019.

“Berrettini is having a great year. He's in semifinals winning a lot of good matches, so what you can expect in a semifinals of a Grand Slam match. You can't expect an easy opponent. You can't expect an easy match”. 
 “He's serving huge, big forehands, moving well, and big confidence because he's having a great year”.

Nadal has now reached the semi-finals in 10 of the 11 tournaments he's played this year, while he has made at least the semis in his last seven majors. For the first time since 2008, the great Spaniard has reached the last four or better in all four Slams.

Can he advance to his third Grand Slam final of the season by taking down Berrettini on Friday night?

Berrettini vs Nadal is live from New York on Friday, 6 September from 6:00pm local time/ 11:00pm BST. Read the full match preview.

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"I'm feeling good": Nadal in "good shape" ahead of US Open semi-final against Berrettini

Rafael Nadal says he is in good shape ahead of his US Open semi-final against Italian young gun, Matteo Berrettini on Friday night.

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