Australian Open 2022 men’s semi-final: Rafael Nadal beats Matteo Berrettini – as it happened

Last modified: 07: 00 AM GMT+0

Nadal is safely through to the final. All that remains to be seen is who will join him there. Tsitsipas and Medvedev aren’t due on court until 7:30pm local, 8:30am GMT, so we’ll close this blog down for now. There will be another later on though, so keep your eyes peeled. But from me for now, cheerio.

And with that, Nadal disappears down the tunnel to a cacophony of cheers. What a champion.

Nadal will play the winner of tonight’s match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev, when he gets the chance to win a 21st grand slam title.

“For me it’s all about the Australian Open more than anything else. It just an amazing event that as I said a couple of days ago now, I have been a little bit lucky in my career with some injuries. At times I play good finals against Novak in 2012and Roger in 2017. I was lucky to win once in 2009 but I never thought about another chance dm in2022. Just enjoy the victory today and after that try my best.”

On the conditions on Rod Laver Arena: “Well, as everybody knows I am more an outdoor than indoor player. But, yeah, I think the stadium looks amazing like this closed with the amazing crowd like this is even more noises, I enjoy the atmosphere a lot. I can’t complain at all.I knew before the match that the roof is going to be closed. You know what, a month-and-a-half I didn’t know if I was going to play tennis. It doesn’t matter if it is outdoors or indoors today. I just wanted to play and do my best.”

Nadal elicits more cheers from the crowd when he says: “That is the only way to be where I am today. Honestly, it means a lot to me to be in the final here again.”

Rafa speaks to Jim Courier.

“I started the match playing great. The first two sets were one of the best so far since a long time. Then I know how good Matteo is, he is a very solid player, very dangerous. In the third I know at some point he is going to go for the shots. And thenI think I didn’t play a good game with myself in the fourth and third. He played some great shots, passing shot down the line, unbelievable. Then, yeah, then I had to suffer and wanted to fight in the fourth again.”

Game, set and match Nadal

Nadal beats Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 He’s done it! With the pressure on his shoulders, Nadal’s experience of these situations shines through. He maintains his cool and on the first of two match points he rides his luck, running around a net cord to put the pressure back on Berrettini, who hits into the net and Nadal is into the Australian Open final!

Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Matteo Berrettini.
Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Matteo Berrettini. Photograph: Andy Brownbill/AP
The crowd cheers Rafael Nadal as he celebrates defeating Matteo Berrettini.
A smile from Nadal as he surveys the crowd celebrating his victory. Photograph: Dean Lewins/EPA


Fourth set: Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 3-5 Nadal* (* denotes next server) What a game! And it could be a pivotal one in this semi-final! Nadal finally wins a point on Berrettini’s serve, when the Italian is long. A classic Rafa forehand levels at 30-30 soon after and the pressure builds on Berrettini for the first time in a long time. He can’t handle it and slashes a forehand into the net to give Nadal a break chance! A lengthy rally ensues as tension spikes but on the 23rd shot, Nadal is out and Berrettini survives! The Spaniard gets another chance soon enough, following another loose Berrettini shot and this time he is able to take it! Berrettini is into the net and Nadal will now serve for a place in the Australian Open final!

Fourth set: *Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 3-4 Nadal (* denotes next server) Nadal loses the crucial first point on his own serve and he’s forced to fight from thereon in. An ace at 30-30 helps him get through this one though, and we’re still on serve, even if Nadal is having to work harder than Berrettini to hold.

Fourth set: Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 3-3 Nadal* (* denotes next server) The transformation of Berrettini continues. He is yet to lose a point this set - in stark contrast to the many points he lost during the opening two. He aces to win another love game and level at three games apiece.

Fourth set: *Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 2-3 Nadal (* denotes next server) A couple of unforced errors from Berrettini at the end of this game prove decisive and the Italian is right to look annoyed with himself. Nadal noses in front again.

That was a really courageous third set from Matteo Berrettini. Nadal has been very impressive, pinning Berrettini into his backhand corner, the worst stroke on the court, exposing Berrettini’s poor return with really solid serving and playing such efficient tennis. After two disappointing sets, Berrettini showed his spirit in the third. He gained confidence in his service games early on and then played a brilliant return game at 4-3, complete with one of the shots of the tournament. He is absolutely destroying the ball now and it looks like a different match.

Still, two good holds from Nadal at the beginning of set four. Aside from a couple of messy points in his 4-3 service game, he hasn’t done much wrong. He will now try to weather the storm.

Fourth set: Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 2-2 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Service games are coming to the fore. Berrettini again holds without losing a point. And onwards we go.

Fourth set: *Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 1-2 Nadal (* denotes next server) Nadal follows suit, with a love-game, the highlight of which is a wonderfully deft backhand volley at the net to bring up game point.


Fourth set: Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 1-1 Nadal* (* denotes next server) No problems for the resurgent Berrettini. He holds serve to love.

Tomorrow’s order of play is out:

#AusOpen Order of Play Saturday 29 January

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2022

Fourth set: *Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 0-1 Nadal (* denotes next server) Now it’s Berrettini, for the first time really today, who’s bouncing around. He’s invigorated at the start of this fourth set and why wouldn’t he be? He’s found a way back in, when he seemed dead and buried. He unleashes a forehand winner, and follows it with a jumping backhand winner. Where have these shots been today? Rafa counters with some big shots of his own, and he’s not going away without a fight. The Spaniard digs deep to hold.

Third set: Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 6-3 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Three big serves from Berrettini bring up three set points. He launches a fourth towards Nadal, who can’t return it and the Italian has found a way back into this match!

Third set: *Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 5-3 Nadal (* denotes next server) The pendulum swings. It’s been coming. Berrettini slides across the blue surface and wallops a forehand winner back past Nadal to go 30-0 up and the complexion of this set has changed. Nadal puts a regulation ball into the net on the next point for the first time Berrettini has a break point against Nadal! Not just one, but three. Nadal saves the first but the writing is on the wall and there are big celebrations in the Berrettini camp when he finally secures a break!

A focused Matteo Berrettini plays a backhand.
A focused Matteo Berrettini plays a backhand. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP


Third set: Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 4-3 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Wowsers, what is this? Berrettini races through a service game, to love for the first time today. That’s by far his easiest hold of the match.

Third set: *Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 3-3 Nadal (* denotes next server) Berrettini threatens to get a break point chance, but he can’t quite get there. Nadal holds.

In other news, the capacity at Melbourne Park for the weekend’s finals has been increased to 80%, in line with the latest Victorian state government advice. A previous limit of 65%, up from an initial 50%, had been set in response to the state’s Covid case load. It means around 3,000 home fans will be able to watch Ash Barty in the women’s singles final, before the Kyrgios-Kokkinakis show gets under way on Saturday night.

“Following consideration of a request from Tennis Australia for a higher cap, the ticketed capacity of the AO has been increased to 80% for the finals on Saturday and Sunday,” Martin Pakula, the sports minister, said.

Third set: Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 3-2 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Nadal has a golden chance at 30-30 - he plays the point perfectly, but his final volley at the net is off target. And he’s left to rue that as Berrettini holds again.

Third set: *Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 2-2 Nadal (* denotes next server) You get the sense that Berrettini may have turned a corner now, finally. Still, Nadal holds his serve and we’re all square.

Third set: Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 2-1 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Berrettini catches the line with a forehand - a fist pump follows, an indication of growing confidence? It’s not easy for the Italian this game, but he roars with delight as he manages to hold again. Still on serve this third set.

Third set: *Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 1-1 Nadal (* denotes next server) Nadal blots his copybook with a rare double fault - his first of the day - at 40-0 up but otherwise it’s plain sailing.

Meanwhile, here’s an offer he’d be mad not to accept.

Fans in the stands inside Rod Laver Arena.
Fans in the stands inside Rod Laver Arena. Photograph: Brandon Malone/AFP/Getty Images

Third set: Berrettini 3-6, 2-6, 1-0 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Berrettini has been broken in his first service game in the previous two sets; what can he do here in the third? He has no answer to Nadal’s forehand on the opening point, but a couple of big serves inject some energy into his outlook. Nadal forces a deuce, but that’s all for the Spaniard as Berrettini does indeed manage to hold!

Second set: *Berrettini 3-6, 2-6 Nadal (* denotes next server) Berrettini, at 30-30, perhaps senses a chance. But he puts a ball long and his face cannot hide his disappointment. Another long ball later and Nadal is in a very strong position, two sets up and with a spring in his step.

Second set: Berrettini 3-6, 2-5 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Berrettini holds with the minimum of fuss! He seals it with an ace and lives to fight another day this set. But Nadal will now serve for a two-set lead.

Second set: *Berrettini 3-6, 1-5 Nadal (* denotes next server) Oof, what a backhand from Nadal to kick off this next game. The commentators on the telly are looking for excuses for Berrettini - they’re coming up with fatigue, both physical and mental, given the extra court time the Italian has had, including that epic five-setter in the quarter-finals against Gael Monfils.

Second set: Berrettini 3-6, 1-4 Nadal* (* denotes next server) This is nice from Berrettini, finishing off at the net to go 40-15 ahead. An encouraging sign for the Italian, who could be forgiven for feeling disconsolate at the moment. He holds though, and he’s on the board.

Second set: *Berrettini 3-6, 0-4 Nadal (* denotes next server) Shankar Mony emails in to say, “It’s getting late early for Berretini!” But what do we have here? Berrettini goes 30-0 up... Nadal on second serve... but the Italian lands a backhand into the net and you feel the chance to apply some pressure to Nadal has passed him by. So it proves, as Nadal produces some brilliant shotmaking, ending with a sliced backhand on game point, to escape unscathed and move further towards a two-set lead.

Second set: Berrettini 3-6, 0-3 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Nadal is in total control at this point. Berrettini is far too passive and he’s paying the price. He faces two break points, which he relies on his big first serve to save, and he soon has to save a third. But when Nadal gets a fourth chance, this time he takes it, and this second set is mirroring the first so far. Nadal with an ominous three-game lead.

Second set: *Berrettini 3-6, 0-2 Nadal (* denotes next server) Nadal is running around a number of forehands and at the moment Berrettini has few answers. Two up early in the second. Nadal’s energy levels are high, as usual - he jinks off to take his return position at the end of this game, contrasting with Berrettini, who appears a bit deflated.

Second set: Berrettini 3-6, 0-1 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Berrettini finds himself in trouble again in the opening game of the second set. His serve threatens to get him out of a potential pickle at 0-30 down but an unforced error follows to gift Nadal a couple of break chances. And the Spaniard rips a forehand winner to get another early advantage.

First set: *Berrettini 3-6 Nadal (* denotes next server) No worries for Nadal as he sends down three impeccable first serves to bring up three set points. It looks like the first set is in the bag, but an off-target forehand followed by a backhand into the net and then another Berrettini powerful forehand winner down the line forces deuce. The glimmer of hope afforded to the Italian is soon extinguished though, and at the fourth time of asking, Nadal secures the opening set, in 43 minutes.

First set: Berrettini 3-5 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Nadal forces a deuce but a couple of loose shots ensure Berrettini survives for another game at least this set.

Matteo Berrettini plays a backhand.
Matteo Berrettini plays a backhand. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images


First set: *Berrettini 2-5 Nadal (* denotes next server) Nadal elicits a big cheer from the stands as he advances to the net to finish off with a volley and move 30-0 ahead. The noise is similar a point later when it’s Berrettini’s turn to have his opponent running all over the baseline before the Italian gets to the net and volleys confidently. But Nadal is all class and a trademark forehand whip sees him safely through another service game. Berrettini has to hold now to stay in the first set.

First set: Berrettini 2-4 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Brilliant from Berrettini! He runs into a sliced backhand that Nadal has no answer to, before he holds his service game off the back of a big serve followed up with a monster forehand. Much better from the Italian as he grows into this match.

First set: *Berrettini 1-4 Nadal (* denotes next server) Again Berrettini shows a glimpse of brilliance - a glorious whipped forehand back across Nadal gets him to 15-40. But a forehand on the run from Nadal on the next point sees the No 6 seed pocket another game without too much further fuss.

First set: Berrettini 1-3 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Berrettini’s first serve sporadically flickers into life in a game he really needs to hold - not just for the scoreboard but in terms of confidence going forward this set and beyond. A couple of aces help the Italian and he does indeed get on the board.

First set: *Berrettini 0-3 Nadal (* denotes next server) Here we go then. Nadal is off and running. Berrettini shows what he’s capable of at one point though, a blistering forehand down the line at 15-40 leaving Nadal flailing. Nevertheless, Spaniard consolidates that early break and he opens up a three-game lead.

A focused Rafael Nadal serves.
A focused Rafael Nadal serves. Photograph: Dean Lewins/EPA


The weather in Melbourne could not be more horrendous right now. The rain is heavy, the sky is dark and there was even thunder earlier. Although Nadal struggled badly in the heat against Denis Shapovalov, these indoor conditions certainly benefit Berrettini. His serve should be bolstered without having to fight the elements while Nadal’s heavy topspin will not bounce as high as in sunny conditions. We’ll see how this goes.

First set: Berrettini 0-2 Nadal* (* denotes next server) Nadal draws first blood! That’s not the start a booming server like Berrettini would be hoping for as Nadal puts the pressure on, brings up two break point opportunities and takes the break at the first chance, as Berrettini fires a ball wide.

I’ve got more on the weather for you, from my second colleague on the ground at Melbourne Park, Tumaini Carayol.

First set: *Berrettini 0-1 Nadal (* denotes next server) Nadal unleashes his trusty left forehand on the opening point, but for once it’s a bit wayward. Good to get those ones out of the system early on. Berrettini does well to force deuce having been 15-40 down, as he capitalises on a Nadal net cord. No matter, Nadal holds his opening service game.


The deluge at Melbourne Park in the last half-hour or so is something to behold. It is difficult to tell inside Rod Laver Arena, where the roof has been rolled out, but it has been absolutely pelting down. This morning was hot and humid, as it has been in Melbourne for most of this tournament. One giant crack of thunder later and that all changed. Nadal and Berrettini would have had enough time to be aware pre-match they would have to play under covers but the rest of us are a bit soggy. Journalists and broadcasters are umbrella-pooling, if that is a thing, to get between the media centre and centre court.

My colleague Emma Kemp has just been caught out in the rain. We’ll hear from her shortly. Meanwhile, we’re pretty much ready to go! Nadal won the toss and chose to serve first. Here we go!

A quick word on the weather, as always: it’s cooled right down to around 22C outside. Apparently it’s raining outside and the roof above Rod Laver Arena has been closed.

That result I mentioned earlier - things didn’t go to plan for the Australian mixed double duo of Jaimee Fourlis and Jason Kubler in the final against Kristina Mladenovic of France and Croatia’s Ivan Dodig. The home side fell to a 6-3, 6-4 defeat to the Europeans, who were playing for the first time together at Melbourne Park.

Ivan Dodig and Kristina Mladenovic with the trophy.
Ivan Dodig and Kristina Mladenovic with the trophy. Photograph: Dean Lewins/EPA

Finally we have pictures of Nadal in the bowels of Rod Laver Arena! There he is, bouncing around, full of energy, and raring to go. He’s 35 years old, this man.

The tennis is big, but it’s not the only sport on at the moment. The Women’s Ashes Test match is well into day two at Canberra’s Manuka Oval, where I believe young Australian quick Darcie Brown has just taken an absolute screamer. Join Tanya Aldred for more over on our dedicated liveblog:

And if you want a good read on the Kyrgios-Kokkinakis juggernaut, look no further than my colleague Emma Kemp’s take on the Australian pairing who are taking the doubles game to new, louder and brasher heights.

While we wait the players on Rod Laver Arena, the host broadcaster is showing a re-run of last night’s women’s semi featuring Ash Barty and Madison Keys. In case you’ve been in a cave for the past 12 hours or so, have a read of Tumaini Carayol’s take on the local talent who will look to become the first Australian to win their home Open in 44 years, since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

A quick look at the head-to-head stats for this pair: Nadal is 100% against Berrettini and has never lost to him. Impressive. Granted, they’ve played just once before, but the stats never lie. That match came in the semi-finals of the 2019 US Open, when Nadal won in straight sets on his way to lifting the title at Flushing Meadows.


Day 12 of the Australian Open and that can only mean one thing: it’s men’s semi-finals. Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas goes toe-to-toe with Daniil Medvedev, Russia’s second seed, later on but first up there’s the small matter of Matteo Berrettini, the Italian seventh seed, against Rafa Nadal, the man standing on the cusp of etching his name further into the annals of tennis history.

Nadal is now just two wins away from a 21st grand slam title, one which will put him out on his own above the absent Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. It will be quite some feat should he manage it, but first things first, he faces the tough prospect of finding a way past Berrettini if he is to return to Rod Laver Arena for Sunday’s showpiece and retain the chance of making history.

The pair are due on court “not before 2:30pm” local time so, with the day’s only preceding match already done and dusted, that’s in about 20 minutes. Don’t go anywhere, entertainment is assured.

In the meantime, feel free to get in touch on email or tweet @mike_hytner.


Mike Hytner

The GuardianTramp

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