Nadal sets up semi-final clash with Berrettini after 5-set epics

(Update: adds Berrettini vs Monfils)

Melbourne, Australia, Jan 25 (EFE).- Rafael Nadal resisted a comeback from Denis Shapovalov to make the Australian Open semifinals after a grueling five-set epic.

The Spaniard, seeded sixth, won 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a clash with Matteo Berrettini, who defeated Gael Monfils in Tuesday’s late match.

“I was completely destroyed after that,” Nadal said following his victory against Canadian Shapovalov, 14th seed.

“I was a little bit lucky at the beginning of the fifth, at the beginning of the match I was playing great, but I know how difficult it is to play against a player like Denis,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion added.

“For me it is amazing to be in the semifinals.”

Nadal also withstood an upset stomach during play, for which he needed brief medical attention in the locker room, to the frustration of Shapovalov who complained to both Nadal and the umpire Carlos Bernardes.

Nadal will appear in his 36th Grand Slam semifinal later this week, closing the gap with Novak Djokovic’s 42 appearances and Roger Federer’s 46.

He will face Matteo Berrettini, who had to dig deep to prevail against Gael Monfils in a five-set battle to become the first Italian to book a place in the men’s singles semifinal.

The seventh seed, who opened up a two-set lead, allowed Monfils back into the match, but he eventually raised his game again to get over the line for a 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 6-2 win.

“I’m really happy for myself, it was another great fight again against Gael,” the 2021 Wimbledon finalist said after posting his third win over the Frenchman in as many career clashes.

“Great match, a lot of emotions. I thought I had him in the third (set) and then I found myself in a fifth, but I really fought hard and I put everything on the court,” he added.

The Italian looked to be on his way on his second straight-set win of the tournament after taking a 2-0 lead in the match.

But with his back against the wall, Monfils, 35, fended off an early charge from the Italian in the third set and claimed a service break in the sixth game to close the gap.

The Frenchman grew in confidence and earned two breaks in the fourth set, while keeping his own delivery out of reach to level the match.

The 25-year-old Berrettini, however, was not ready to give up just yet and the Frenchman paid for a poor start to the deciding frame to trail 4-0, which proved to be insurmountable. EFE


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