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Nadal sets up US Open final showdown with Medvedev after surging past Berrettini in straight sets

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 7 Sep 2019
  • Nadal defeated Berrettini in straight sets to make his fifth US Open final
  • The Spaniard is one win away from 19 Grand Slam titles
  • He'll face Medvedev in Sunday's final
Rafael Nadal (PA Images)

Rafael Nadal is one win away from capturing a 19th Grand Slam title after advancing into a fifth U.S. Open final with a straight sets dispatch of Italian powerhouse Matteo Berrettini on Friday night.

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Nadal subdued the big-hitting Berrettini in straight sets, surviving a torrid opener before gradually grinding down the Italian, coming away with a 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-1 victory in two hours and 35 minutes.

The win propels Nadal into his third Grand Slam final of the season and gives him the chance to claim a fourth U.S. Open title, and more importantly, an opportunity to move to within one slam of Roger Federer’s record of 20.

"For me it means a lot to be back where I am today after some tough moments at the beginning of the season,” said Nadal, who was battling a hip injury that saw him retire at Indian Wells, withdraw from Miami and caused him to start his clay season on the back foot.

Berrettini was under constant pressure in the opening set, but the Italian repeatedly used a combination of big serving, penetrating forehands and deft drop shots to bail himself out of trouble.

Rafael Nadal (PA Images)
After saving eight break points in total and subsequently racing out to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreak, it appeared as if Berrettini was going to steal the set and force Nadal to come from behind. However, Nadal - as he so often does - maintained his relentless intensity and refused to miss in long baseline exchanges. Berrettini would earn two set points for himself at 6-4, but he failed to convert both, hitting a volley into the net and making a cheap unforced error when an attempted backhand drop shot barely reached the net.

Nadal needed no second invitation and ultimately won four points on the bounce to secure the opening set - and from there he was in complete control, breaking Berrettini for the first time midway through the second set and then forcing two more breaks in the third to complete his straight sets win, firing 31 winners to just 18 unforced errors, along with winning 37/41 points behind his first serve and 17/21 points when he ventured forward at net.

"The first set was a little frustrating because I had a lot of break points before the tie-break and he didn't have any. In the tie-break I was a little lucky because he had 5/2 and 4/0. But I survived at that moment and I finally got the break in the second and then the match completely changed," Nadal said. 
"I started to play with more calm and be more aggressive. I'm super happy to be back in the final of the US Open."

Nadal has dropped just one set on his way to the U.S. Open final, losing the second against Marin Cilic in the fourth round. 

The 33-year-old has won 26 of his last 27 matches, with his only loss amongst title triumphs in Rome, Roland Garros and the Canada Masters coming in the Wimbledon semi-finals against Federer.

Into a 27th Grand Slam final, Nadal will face fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in a rematch of the Canada Masters final for the U.S. Open title on Sunday.

Nadal dropped just three games in a 6-3 6-0 masterclass over Medvedev that day, but the World No. 2 is expecting a much tougher challenge at Flushing Meadows, with the Russian winning 20 of his last 22 matches and playing the best tennis of his career.

"He's making steps forward every single week. He's having an amazing summer, winning Cincinnati and making the final in Montreal and Washington and now the final here,” Nadal said about Medvedev.
“He's been playing the best tennis on tour this summer so he will be the toughest opponent in the final. I need to be playing at my best. But in a Grand Slam final you can't expect an easy opponent.”


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Nadal sets up US Open final showdown with Medvedev after surging past Berrettini in straight sets

Rafael Nadal is one win away from capturing a 19th Grand Slam title after advancing into a fifth U.S. Open final with a straight sets dispatch of Italian powerhouse Matteo Berrettini on Friday night.

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