Nadal v Berrettini, Medvedev v Tsitsipas; Australian Open SF Picks And Pans

by Sean Randall | January 27th, 2022, 2:44 pm
  • 33 Comments

After 11 days or so of battle, we have a final four in the men’s field at the Australian Open.

The all-Top 10 semifinal is nothing terribly surprising. There’s no Aslan Karatsev, or Lucas Pouille or Hyeong Chung, etc, crashing the party. With Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini, it’s all chalk.

When Novak Djokovic got deported, Berrettini became the man in that quarter and he took advantage.

Tsitsipas’s elbow was a real concern before the start of the tournament, but the Greek appears to be 100% and he never looked better Tuesday night in dusting off the talented Italian Jannik Sinner.

Nadal’s had a good draw (Alexander Zverev’s surrender helped!), and the good fortune of getting two days off after that roller coaster against Denis Shapovalov — sorry, Denis, winning Slams does come with benefits, that’s on you.

And then Medvedev has looked the part of the favorite. He shrugged off that match point against Felix Auger-Aliassime with a bomb serve. He’s so relaxed and unstressed in those post-match interviews.

So this semifinal sets up for a great weekend of tennis Down Under. To my picks.

RAFAEL NADAL v MATTEO BERRETTINI
Ten years younger, Berrettini is stronger, should be fresher and has the bigger game and better on the cement. He should win! But the burly Italian doesn’t have the results.

Other than a couple victories over Gael Monfils, he doesn’t have that signature win in a Slam like Tsitsipas, Medvedev and even Thiem have. A win over Nadal would be it.

Rafa rolled him in the 2019 US Open semifinals when Berrettini also had just won a 5-setter over Monfils.

The 25-year-old Berrettini is better now. More experienced, more hardened and hopefully physically stronger, though he’s still prone to injury.

Nadal isn’t what he used to be. Now 35, he admitted to being tired(!!!) after his win over Shapovalov. He admitted to struggling in the heat. And he had something going on with his stomach.

But Nadal is still a champion. He’s got a lot on the line this weekend — two wins from 21 and another Career Slam — and the two days off is massive.

Both guys should be rested and recovered from their 5-setters, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

For Nadal, if he connects with his serve and forehand, and get the big guy on the run, he’ll be in good shape.

For Berrettini, he has to be bombing that serve, otherwise he’ll be in trouble.

I think Berrettini has the game, but mentally he hasn’t shown that higher level. So with that, I think gets a set, but no more.
The Pick: Rafael Nadal in 4

DANIIL MEDVEDEV v STEFANOS TSITSIPAS
Medvedev saved a match point, Tsitsipas was in a war against Taylor Fritz. So both guys have been pushed, though like I said the Greek is coming off a tremendously clean performance over Sinner. So that helps his case.

Medvedev has won 6 of 8 including a convincing win in this semifinal round at the Australian Open last year.

And he has the edge here.

Medvedev looks like he having so much fun out there. Playing freely and with joy. And he feeds off the crowd, the opponent and the moment.

Meanwhile, Tsitsipas seems to be full of tension and angst. He’s an incredible ball striker and all-around, more talented than Medvedev. However, he doesn’t have that same freedom.

On court, this is an offense (Tsitsipas) v defense (Medvedev) match, but I just like the Russian’s attitude and toughness. And he’ll do something that will get into Tsitsipas’s head (he’s probably already in there, actually). Plus, that experience of having already won that first Slam and the freedom with that weight gone, tips the scale in favor of Medvedev.

That said, if Tsitsipas plays like he did against Sinner, he could very well get the upset. That’s if he’s still got that taste from that French Open final collapse out of his mouth. I doubt it.

So, Steph gets close, but Medvedev is too tough in the end.
The Pick: Medvedev in 5

The men’s semifinals begin with a day match at 10:30pm EST and the night match at 3:30am.

FRIDAY AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCHEDULE
Rod Laver Arena
Day session – From noon
Mixed Doubles Final
J. Fourlis/J. Kubler WC v K. Mladenovic/I. Dodig 5

Day session – Not before 2:30pm
M. Berrettini 7 v R. Nadal 6

Night session – From 7:30pm
S. Tsitsipas 4 v D. Medvedev 2


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33 Comments for Nadal v Berrettini, Medvedev v Tsitsipas; Australian Open SF Picks And Pans

JF Says:

Nadal looking good so far tonight against Berrettini.


Anto Says:

Nadal through to his 6th Australian Open final. And he will be looking to be the first man in history to achieve 21 Grand Slams. Vamos Rafa.


JF Says:

I hope he wins the title I sort of feel he deserves it after dealing with some set backs due to injuries.


Zed Says:

Only because Novak was not allowed to play. Rafa may get the title but it will be a diminished victory.


Anto Says:

@Zed,

Are you going to diminish his first French Open victory in 2016 because he didn’t play Rafa where he had to retire midway through the tournament? Also are you going to diminish Novak Djokovic 2018 Us Open victory because Rafa didn’t play that open?

I can go on, but I think I made my point here. But you know what? I already know what you are going to say to this as you have already demonstrated your subject bias towards Djokovic.


Anto Says:

Correction: I was think about 2020 Us Open which Dominic Them won. But the point still stands. Are you going to diminish a GS victory because your primary challenger (someone form the big3 or 4) did not play against you in the tournament or they did not participate in the GS at all?


Anto Says:

Also FYI, I would probably consider Djokovic the GOAT given that he has the most no of records in the history of tennis.

But I would not consider it a settled debate given that there are more than just numbers here at play. For example its very hard to argue against Nadal being the best ever at clay at least in his generation. But how would you know if he is better than Bjorn Borg at his prime? He played in a different era with different court, with different rackets , different quality of opponents? So the only way we can compare is with numbers. And if thats the metric we chose, then its obvious Nadal is the best ever at clay in the history of tennis. But how can we just chose the number only when there are other factors at play like I previously mentioned.

Also there are even more interesting questions here to be discussed when talking about GOAT. What if a player X when he was in his prime could defeat anybody consistently in their prime in any surface. And what if player Y who was also a part of player X’s generation but had a longer primer than X, was the second best player during X’s prime and the best player in his rest of the prime years. Would that make Player X the GOAT or Player Y the GOAT? There definitely cannot be an objective answer to this question as it will depend on what you chose are the measuring parameter and that is inadvertently is going to be subjective.

The above scenario can be even more complicated if you consider Y defeated X most of the time in one surface, lets say clay, even when X was in his prime defeating everyone else in all surfaces including Y in other surfaces.

Also the fact that it’s not straightforward to understand the prime of a player especially during this era makes this conversation even harder.


Anto Says:

1 set a-piece. Will it go the distance?


Giles Says:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/59999541 Ore on the joker saga. What’s going on? Sounds like Hokus Pokus! Lol


Anto Says:

So its a Rafa vs Medvedev final. Medvedev is the favourite. But don’t count out Rafa.


Van Persie Says:

Rafa did never manage to beat Nole at the AO, Nole beat Rafa twice on his fave tarf, at the Frech Open.


skeezer Says:

Rafa has a chance for 21. Who would have thought? Kudos to him.


Van Persie Says:

Yep, Skeezer, Kudos to him. I will enoy that particular moment, where he will held the RUP “trophy” and that he will tell, he did not expect to make it so far :)


Van Persie Says:

Correction: I will enjoy, not enoy :D


Anand Says:

None of three is the GOAT.

A GOAT has to be so far ahead in his or her generation that he or she can probably be considered greatest of all time.

The best example is Don Bradman in cricket.

These three have comparable records right now. Unless one of them goes on to win 25+ slams with the others staying at 20 there is no GOAT.


Giles Says:

Poor joker. All he can do is watch the players with a bag of popcorn in his hands instead of a racket!


Giles Says:

VP. You do realise that if Med wins he will overtake joker as #1. Do you really want that?


Van Persie Says:

Giles,

I am fine with the idea, if the torch is passed to another crocodile :)
Medvedev showed, that he deserves it. I am sure, he will not prove me wrong ;)


lylenubbins Says:

Nice predictions from tennis-x!


Madmax Says:

Anto Says:
So its a Rafa vs Medvedev final. Medvedev is the favourite. But don’t count out Rafa.

January 28th, 2022 at 6:29 am

Anto,

Not at all. Let’s just step back and think how utterly incredible it is that Rafa is in this tournament, after all of his setbacks and injuries. Whether you like the guy or not, it’s irrelevant. Rafa is the favourite I feel, (but that is just a feeling). He has the uncanny ability to just come back, over and over again. Extra rest and a game plan, enjoying watching the SF with Medvedev with a beer and his coach – sorry, Ice water and lemon, with his coach.

It will be a great match I think, both playing their hearts out, for sure.

Keep an eye on the clock, time between points. Medvedev has to keep his temper, because this will cause him some issues, I feel. Anyway, who cares. May be the best man win.

Federer will always be the GOAT, Rafa will have no pressure going in.

Good luck!


Giles Says:

VP. Brave words. Lol


chrisford1 Says:

As a Djokovic fan, I am sorry Djokovic will lose #1 soon, or see Radal pass him in Slams. It would have been great to see him fighting off Medvedev a bit longer so he could reach 7 years as #1 and have a full year more than Federer as #1. And if it is Rafa, for the victory to really mean something something special in getting a title with Novax in the draw.
But the choice was his. Alt medicine or tennis.
When the tournament ends, he will be issuing a public statement, then his sponsors will decide to keep him or drop him.


chrisford1 Says:

It’s already Saturday in Melbourne and the woman’s final is coming. While Daniel Collins has the soap opera comeback from medical woes narrative the media loves, I think most fans, certainly OZ fans, are rooting for Ashleigh Barty.
Barty is a very humble and likeable player with a fairly unique manner of play that fans and the pubic at large also take to. Fun to watch, a champion, and an athlete representing Australia well.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

I told y’all that Rafa was going to be hungry and dangerous. Rafa truly believing in himself is tough to beat.

I always thought Rafa’s biggest weapon was his speed, and when he slowed down he’d become average fast. Was I ever wrong. He’s clearly slowed down a couple steps, and is more protective of his body rather than chasing balls, but he still is a truly elite player.

It would certainly be an unexpected twist if Rafa finishes with more slams than Novak. Would anyone have bet on that 6 months ago? Or that Medvedev would take #1 in the winter?

I am hoping for Rafa now, but not sure who I’ll want during the match. Should be a great one. Hope I can wake up for it.


JF Says:

ZED- That Novak would have won the title had he played this AO is not guaranteed. The games have to be played. A win is a win, just like the times that Novak won grand slams in tournaments that Nadal or Fed didn’t participate in. You gotta be in it to win it!


skeezer Says:

TV,
Count me being wrong also, i thought Rafa wouldn’t last this long no way no how, and still competing at the top level! Amazing athlete for sure.


Zed Says:

Anto,

Firstly, yes you are right. Whilst I am angry that Novak was prevented from playing, I should not take it out on Rafa if in fact he wins. Novak has benefited as well from the absence of the other two (three if you count Murray).

Secondly, yes it is hard in any sport to compare across generations. In boxing, would Ali in his prime beat Tyson in his prime?

Without a time-machine nothing can be known without enormous doubt over any conclusions arrived at.

In tennis, there are some ways that players of one decade can be compared to players of another decade but (of course) there is argument over the value of those techniques.

For example, simply saying “in the 80’s X won 5 Grand Slams” but “in the 70’s Y won 6 Grand Slams” is insufficient.

You have to ask questions like “when X won the 5 Grand Slams how many top 10 players did he beat to get there, how many top 10 players did Y beat?” That’s only the first method that came to mind, there are many others that are used to make these imperfect (but the best we have in the absence of a time machine) comparisons.

One YouTuber that does this sort of analysis is Goatkovic. Yes, he is a Novak fan, yes he comes to the conclusion that Novak is the GOAT, but don’t shut the door just yet. Give the man a chance and watch his videos for no other reason than to see what some of these comparison techniques are.

If you pull yourself back from the players that are being compared in these videos and focus only on the techniques that can be employed, you see that tennis lends itself better than other sports to such cross-generational comparisons.

The videos are at these links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50ZXa-u-mCQ&t=1s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dp2JgqvHVY&t=24s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6klGZgcjQk&t=1s


tennismonger Says:

@TV, skeezer…ok, I’ll confess the same. I even remember being chastised by some (long gone) TXer for my insensitive words…I thought I was just being realistic!

Of course now Rafa has become…RAFA! Vamos forever, man!

I can’t predict what will happen except that maybe after a few hours in, Medvedev will wish he was back playing Novax in Flushing Meadow!


Zed Says:

Anto,

Firstly, yes you are right. Whilst I am angry that Novak was prevented from playing, I should not take it out on Rafa if in fact he wins. Novak has benefited as well from the absence of the other two (three if you count Murray).

Secondly, yes it is hard in any sport to compare across generations. In boxing, would Ali in his prime beat Tyson in his prime?

Without a time-machine nothing can be known without enormous doubt over any conclusions arrived at.

In tennis, there are some ways that players of one decade can be compared to players of another decade but (of course) there is argument over the value of those techniques.

For example, simply saying “in the 80’s X won 5 Grand Slams” but “in the 70’s Y won 6 Grand Slams” is insufficient.

You have to ask questions like “when X won the 5 Grand Slams how many top 10 players did he beat to get there, how many top 10 players did Y beat?” That’s only the first method that came to mind, there are many others that are used to make these imperfect (but the best we have in the absence of a time machine) comparisons.

One YouTuber that does this sort of analysis is Goatkovic. Yes, he is a Novak fan, yes he comes to the conclusion that Novak is the GOAT, but don’t shut the door just yet. Give the man a chance and watch his videos for no other reason than to see what some of these comparison techniques are.

If you ignore the players that are being compared in these videos and focus only on the techniques that can be employed, you see that tennis lends itself better than other sports to such cross-generational comparisons.

Please not I will have to show the videos in separate posts because multiple links in the one post are not allowed apparently:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50ZXa-u-mCQ&t=1s


Zed Says:

Final Video Link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6klGZgcjQk&t=1s

The techniques are very interesting and as I said earlier, do not focus on who is being compared, think of them as player X and player Y.

Instead look at how you can compare players in different time periods.


Madmax Says:

skeezer Says:
TV,
Count me being wrong also, i thought Rafa wouldn’t last this long no way no how, and still competing at the top level! Amazing athlete for sure.

January 28th, 2022 at 2:40 pm

SKEEZER,

Hi there.

I want to echo what you have said, and more. I am really happy for the Rafa fans here, except Giles, because he does not deserve to be a fan of Rafa with all his bad luck given to other fans, and his foul language, and this needs to be noted. Sorry Giles, but you have not changed.

For the great Rafa fans out there, I wish you all the best. If your man wins, he will be the GOAT. He will have won the most number of slams and he will deserve this.

He is a top, elite athlete, but also, a kind, humble, and generous role model for all other young tennis players pushing through. Rafa is amazing. I wish him the absolute best. To come back from multiple injuries, and to play at this extremely high level. Wow. That is pure commitment, but more than that, it is the utter and sheer belief in himself. He is like a gigantic bulldozer, he keeps digging, and digging, and pushing forward.

All the best Rafa fans.


chrisford1 Says:

Giles is atypical of Rafa fans. I have gone to some Rafa fan sites for pics and comments of some Djokovic-Nadal matches, Rafa in his off time
– and they couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful. Even with me identifying up front as a Novak fan.
In this one, us Djokovic fans are screwed either way. But if Rafa gets his 21st, and becomes the 2nd player in the modern era to have 2 career slams – it was on his merits after Djokovic rolled the dice and came up snake eyes. No asterisk. Rafa will have EARNED it.

And if Daniil Medvedev wins and takes over #1 from Djokovic, sooner vs. later, I’m good with that. I like watching him. He is unique, he is an artist, fun to watch and listen to. His rant on Tsitsiputz being coached and the umpire letting it happen was great, even his fluent English used to insult the ump in a way Medvedev could claim ignorance of..
*Really, in Russia, calling someone a small cat only means they can get better at what they are doing. Honest! What, it could mean ‘little pussy’ too? I wouldn’t DREAM of insulting that gutless ump in such a manner!!”

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