Rafael Nadal is far and away the favorite not just today but this weekend to take home his 4th career US Open and 19th Slam.
Nadal is the only remaining of the four players who has won a Slam or even reached Slam final, or previous made the US Open final four. His opposition today is Matteo Berrettini. The 23-year-old from Rome is only the second Italian man to make the US Open semifinals. Berrettini, though, just went five long grueling sets in a win Wednesday over Gael Monfils.
” I think he’s the greatest fighter ever in this sport. It’s unbelievable he’s doing,” Berrettini said. “I admire him, like, the way he’s on the court, you know. Like his attitude is something that it’s — I think it’s close to the perfection. He’s always, like, 5-0, 40-Love down, he’s always there. It’s something that’s not that easy to do. So bravo.”
But the young kid possesses a massive serve with a strong forehand to complement. Berrettini lost to Roger Federer in the fourth round at Wimbledon easily, so this will be his biggest test since then.
“He’s in semifinals,” Nadal said. “Berrettini is having a great year. He’s in semifinals winning a lot of good matches, so what you can expect in a semifinals of a Grand Slam match. You can’t expect an easy opponent. You can’t expect an easy match.”
In the early semifinal, Daniil Medvedev will try to keep his hot hand going against Grigor Dimitrov. The 23-year-old Medvedev has won 19 of his last 21 matches with three straight finals. A fourth today would be the biggest of his young career.
“I am surprised,” Medvedev said of his run. “That’s what I’ve been working for all my life, especially the last two and a half years. That’s where I’ve been going step by step. I was improving my rankings. But I am still really surprised with the way this last four weeks have been going.”
Meanwhile, Dimitrov is playing in his third Grand Slam semifinal at 2014 Wimbledon and 2017 Australia. The 27-year-old Bulgarian has pulled himself out of a major funk this week. He arrived ranked #78 with just one win in his last seven events. Now, he’ll face the Russian for the biggest final of his career.
“I think the past six, seven months have been pretty rough for me,” Dimitrov said. “But I had somebody to lean on, my friends, my family. I kept on believing again in the work, the rehab I had to put behind my shoulder, the exercise, the practice, fixing up the racquet a little bit. There were so many things I had to adjust in such a small but big period of time.
“Next thing you know, you’re almost end of the year, you have a result like that. It’s pretty special to me.”
No. 2 and three-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal is joined by three first-time semi-finalists in Flushing Meadows: No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, No. 24 seed Matteo Berrettini and unseeded Grigor Dimitrov. Nadal is in his seventh consecutive Grand Slam semi-final, eighth overall at the US Open and 33rd in his career, while Dimitrov is playing in his third Grand Slam semi-final. Medvedev and Berrettini are making their Grand Slam semi-final debuts.
Medvedev and Berrettini are both 23 years old. This is the first Grand Slam tournament semi-final with two players 23 (or younger) since last year’s Australian Open with Hyeon Chung (21) and Kyle Edmund (23). The last US Open SFs with two players 23 (or younger) was Juan Martin del Potro (20) and Novak Djokovic (22) in 2009
This is also the first Grand Slam semi-final with three players born in the 1990s: Medvedev (1996), Berrettini (1996) and Dimitrov (1991). One of the three is looking to become the first Grand Slam champion born in the 1990s. There have been two finalists: Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros in 2018-19 and Milos Raonic at Wimbledon in 2016. The last time there were three first-time US Open semi-finalists was in 2004 with Roger Federer, Tim Henman
and Joachim Johansson.
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