MELBOURNE (Reuters) – An Australian Open that started with an unprecedented saga involving reigning champion Novak Djokovic will end with a historic boom on Sunday, with all four men’s semi-finalists given the chance to write their names in the record books .
Should 2009 champion Rafa Nadal win the Australian Open for a second time, the Spaniard will become the first man to claim 21 Grand Slam titles, ahead of major rivals Djokovic and Roger Federer.
The 35-year-old has said he is motivated more by the love of playing than by finishing ahead of Djokovic and Federer.
“I don’t believe that my luck, my future luck, depends on whether I get one Grand Slam more than the other or if the others get more Grand Slams than I do,” he said after his quarterfinals. win on Tuesday.
Matteo Berrettini, who will play against Nadal in the first semifinal on Friday, wants to become the first Italian to win the Australian Open.
“I like to think I’m writing a little bit of Italian tennis history. We are a great country for tennis,” he said.
Daniil Medvedev could become the first Open-era man to win a second major immediately after claiming his first after his US Open success in 2021.
“If it’s true, then it’s history. It’s perfect,” said the Russian.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who takes on Medvedev’s other last-four clash on Friday, would become the first Greek to win a Grand Slam should he lift the trophy.
“I’m on the right track and it looks good for me so far,” said Tsitsipas, the youngest of the four semifinalists at 23. “And, well, with the right mentality and with the right attitude and with the right development throughout the tournament, my chances are pretty good.”
The drama surrounding the deportation of Djokovic from Australia on the eve of the tournament has not been forgotten.
When Medvedev said he had channeled Djokovic’s warrior spirit after clearing a two-set deficit against Felix Auger-Aliassime, he was booed by some fans.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley was also booed when he appeared on the course during the tournament.
But the quality of the last four men standing is fantastic, with all of them having either won a Grand Slam title or made it to the final since Nadal’s 2020 French Open win.
The Spaniard and Berrettini have only met once, with Nadal proving too strong in a US Open semifinal in 2019 during his run to the title.
Berrettini said the sixth seed has been an inspiration to him for more than a decade, but he is confident he can be beaten.
“I know I can do it. It’s going to be very difficult,” said the 2021 Wimbledon finalist.
Tsitsipas, runner-up at Roland Garros last year, and Medvedev have had their differences but came closer together as teammates for Europe at the Laver Cup last September.
The Russian defeated Tsitsipas in two sets in the Melbourne Park semifinals last year.
(Reporting by Courtney Walsh; editing by Peter Rutherford)