Rafael Nadal overcame seventh seed Matteo Berrettini to reach the Australian Open final and close in on a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam singles title.
The Spaniard, who is eyeing a historic major title in improbable fashion, brushed the big-hitting Italian aside in four sets, 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3, on Rod Laver Arena in what ended up being an inspired semi-final win.
A few months ago, the 35-year-old did not even know if he would be in Australia to participate after struggling with injuries over a sustained period ahead of the tournament. Now he has reached his sixth final at Melbourne Park.
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Berrettini threw everything he possibly could at his opponent, but in reality, Nadal never looked overly troubled, with the third set merely a minor blip as he surged on in front of the jubilant fans willing him on at a tournament where he is immensely popular.
Nadal can move beyond rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic with a 21st singles Slam in Melbourne on Sunday, and will now await the winner of Daniil Medvedev's last-four clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Despite all his major titles, the sixth seed has just the solitary title at the first Grand Slam of the season, back in 2009. He will now have every chance of claiming his second in Sunday's showpiece.
"The first two sets were some of the best I've played for a long time," Nadal said in his on-court interview.

'We need to suffer, we need to fight' - Nadal reaches final, closes on 21st Grand Slam

"I had to suffer and I had to fight, but to be in the final again means a lot. I think I started the match playing great, one of the best in a long time.
"I know how good Matteo is, very solid, and I knew in the third [set] he was going to go for the shots. He's a very charismatic player on tour. I wish him all the best, I think he has a very good future.

'That's how much it means!' - Nadal seals victory over Berrettini

"We need to suffer and we need to fight. That is the only way to be where I am today. It means a lot to be in the final again today.
"For me, it's all about the Australian Open. It's an amazing event, but I have been a little unlucky with my injuries. I was close a couple of times and was lucky I won in 2009. I will try to enjoy the victory today and then afterwards I will just try to do my best."
US Open champion Medvedev has been labelled a "heavy favourite" to win the title all along by Eurosport's Mats Wilander. The Russian was beaten in last year's final by Novak Djokovic, who was deported from Australia earlier this month.

‘I missed that feeling’ – Nadal says he feels ‘alive again’

Seven-time major winner John McEnroe said Nadal would be a worthy champion in Melbourne.
"Who was the last guy who was 35 and did not play for six months, and then went on to win the Australian Open? His name was Roger Federer," said Eurosport expert McEnroe.
"All of a sudden, things have fallen into place for Rafa, who has to be the humblest, classiest champion of almost any athlete I’ve ever seen in any sport.
"It’s well-deserved for a guy to do this like Rafa Nadal. You can see how much it meant to him to get to the finals again."

'Everyone talked about Djokovic, they forgot to talk about Nadal' - McEnroe

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