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Rafael Nadal beats Matteo Berrettini to reach US Open final – as it happened

The Guardian
Saturday 7 September 2019 04:45

Nadal will face Medvedev in final after win over DimitrovWilliams out to overcome 2018 US Open final meltdown 3.45am BST You can read a full report from tonight’s match here: Related: Rafael Nadal overcomes early Berrettini resistance to reach US Open final 3.15am BST Rafa is asked how he has managed to sustain his success for so long: “The secret is the passion and love for what you are doing. It is impossible to have a successful and long career if you don’t love what you’re doing.” 3.12am BST Nadal speaks: “The first set was frustrating with all the break points ... and I was a little bit lucky in the tiebreak. After that the match changed and I am super happy to be back in the final of the US Open.” 3.08am BST A double fault from an understandably tired Berrettini gives Rafa, who is cruising now, match point. And he takes it with a withering crosscourt forehand.
3.04am BST Third set: *Nadal 7-6, 6-4, 5-1 Berrettini (* denotes server)Rafa still has plenty of energy - he races back to retrieve a lob and whips a forehand winner past his bemused opponent. He closes out the game to love. 3.00am BST Third set: Nadal 7-6, 6-4, 4-1 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Berrettini has 42 unforced errors to 16 for Nadal. And it’s little surprise when he finds himself at 0-40. I will stick my neck out and say this isn’t going be another five-set victory for the Italian. He does, however, bring up deuce with a drop shot that Nadal can’t reach after he slips. Rafa comes back to break though. 2.55am BST Third set: *Nadal 7-6, 6-4, 3-1 Berrettini (* denotes server)Rafa opens the game with an ace down the middle. And then goes to 40-0 with another one - 50% of his aces for the match have come in this game. And then he double faults. He hasn’t been broken in this match but his serving has been average at best - it will need to be much better in the final. 2.51am BST Third set: Nadal 7-6, 6-4, 2-1 Berrettini* (* denotes server)How would the match have panned out if Berrettini had won that first-set tiebreak? He still would have had to deal with an exhausting first set after a tough path to get here in the first place. But maybe the euphoria of going a set up in a grand slam semi would have helped those tired legs. A good hold for the Italian. 2.49am BST Third set: *Nadal 7-6, 6-4, 2-0 Berrettini (* denotes server)Berrettini is thinking about a nice, well deserved nap now. And it’s that stage of the match where the commentators team speculate which position Rafa would play in the NFL (correct answer: no position because he’s too small). Anyway, another easy hold. 2.45am BST Third set: Nadal 7-6, 6-4, 1-0 Berrettini* (* denotes server)This set could be quick - even Berrettini’s forehand is looking off pace. Well, not all his forehands - he whacks a 92mph winner past Nadal to make it 40-30. But that’s as good as it gets and Nadal breaks. You wait for one break and then... 2.38am BST Rafa serves for the set. He goes to the net twice - a rarity in this match - and wins both points. He brings up three sets point with a very tired shot from Berrettini. And clinches it at the first attempt. Berrettini swipes at the air in frustration - he knows his hopes are all but gone now.

2.32am BST Second set: Nadal 7-6, 5-4 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Nadal knows he just needs to stay in rallies against the tiring Berrettini. And Berrettini knows his best chance is to launch those big shots - but that’s tough when you’ve been on court for so much longer than your opponent over the course of the tournament. Berrettini will not give up though - and some good serving keeps him alive in the set. 2.27am BST Second set: *Nadal 7-6, 5-3 Berrettini (* denotes server)Berrettini has barely challenged Nadal on his serve, apart from in the tiebreak, and if he is to have any chance he needs to hit back quickly. It’s a good start - he wins the first point. It’s nearly 0-30 too but Nadal’s forehand skims the line to even the game at 15-15. Matteo, who looked spent at the end of the last game, somehow makes it to deuce - partly thanks to a Rafa double fault but the Spaniard closes things out. 2.20am BST Second set: Nadal 7-6, 4-3 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Has Berrettini’s impressive resistance ended? He’s had to fight in nearly every service game in this match - and he’s always ended up winning. But this time he finds himself at 15-40 after his latest drop shot - a shot that had served him well in the opening set - and Nadal breaks on his 10th attempt. 2.16am BST Second set: *Nadal 7-6, 3-3 Berrettini (* denotes server)Great opening point from Nadal. He moves his opponent all around the court - putting those tired legs to the test - before striking a winner into the corner. Nadal’s fourth hold to love. 2.12am BST Second set: Nadal 7-6, 2-3 Berrettini* (* denotes server)It’s impressive that Berrettini is still in this match. He is yet to be broken despite defending a pile of break points. And despite admitting he was fatigued he’s hanging around after blowing a good chance to take the first set. His best service game of the set so far. 2.09am BST Second set: *Nadal 7-6, 2-2 Berrettini (* denotes server)On ESPN, John McEnroe is attempting to figure out how many Jonas Brothers there are. Nine? A lot of people forget about Dudley. 2.04am BST Second set: Nadal 7-6, 1-2 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Every Berrettini service game is a battle for the Italian. But then again that was the case in the first set - and he almost won it. And - like the first set - it’s another break point for Nadal. He has had eight now and is yet to convert ... and won’t this time either. Berrettini has plenty of time to wind up for one of his huge forehands and we’re at deuce. Another fight back to hold for Matteo. 1.59am BST Second set: *Nadal 7-6, 1-1 Berrettini (* denotes server)A hold to love for Nadal - and his serve is looking much more consistent than it did at the end of the first set. 1.55am BST Second set: Nadal 7-6, 0-1 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Agony for Berrettini who had battled to stay in that set before getting his chance with a set point in the tiebreak. But - as the great ones always do - Nadal upped his play when it most mattered and returned shot after shot in the closing stages of the tiebreak. Will that finish the Italian? He had an exhausting five-setter in the quarter-final and now most live with the knowledge he had a great chance to go a set up. 1.47am BST Plenty of pressure on the Italian as he serves to stay in the set. And he hits his first serve into the net. He has held his nerve beautifully so many times in this net but a loose forehand from the Italian secures Rafa the set after 74 minutes.
1.45am BST First set tiebreak: *Nadal 7-6 Berrettini (* denotes server)Nadal’s serving has been poor in this tiebreak and it’s another second serve. But after a long rally Berrettini hits a backhand into the net. 1.43am BST First set tiebreak: *Nadal 6-6 Berrettini (* denotes server)And finally Berrettini’s drop shot lets him down. Nadal’s first serve was also out but called in and his opponent didn’t challenge. 1.42am BST First set tiebreak: Nadal 5-6 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Berrettini has set point on his own serve. Two lets off the first two serves. The tension mounts and he dumps the thirds into the net. An incredibly hard half volley for Matteo at the net is too tough and we’re back on serve. 1.40am BST First set tiebreak: Nadal 4-6 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Nadal finally gets to a drop shot but his opponent sends it back for a winner. 1.39am BST First set tiebreak: *Nadal 4-5 Berrettini (* denotes server)Good serving from Nadal to make it 4-5. 1.39am BST First set tiebreak: *Nadal 3-5 Berrettini (* denotes server)Another bad serve from Rafa but Berrettini sends his lob long. 1.38am BST First set tiebreak: Nadal 2-5 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Matteo has played five tiebreaks this tournament - this is Rafa’s first. The Italian hits his first serve into the net - but then Nadal hits his backhand long. 1.36am BST First set tiebreak: *Nadal 1-4 Berrettini (* denotes server)Rafa wins his first point of the tiebreak and we get a fist pump. 1.35am BST First set tiebreak: *Nadal 0-4 Berrettini (* denotes server)The noise rises in Arthur Ashe as the crowd sense an upset and then - a miracle! Matteo hits a backhand winner! 1.34am BST First set tiebreak: Nadal 0-3 Berrettini* (* denotes server)A couple of big forehands takes us to 3-0 to Berrettini and the Italian is in control. 1.33am BST First set tiebreak: *Nadal 0-1 Berrettini (* denotes server)Rafa dumps his first serve into the net ... and then double faults! A mini-break for the Italian. 1.32am BST Nadal 6-6 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Berrettini goes to 40-0 with, yep, a drop shot. Rafa doesn’t even bother to run for it. A point later and we’re going to a tiebreak. 1.29am BST *Nadal 6-5 Berrettini (* denotes server)Nadal has been the better player in this set but he’s still yet to find a way to break his opponent. Berrettini takes a few wild swings and Nadal holds to love. If the Italian is going to win this crucial set - particularly given the amount of time he’s spent on court this tournament - it will have to be in a tiebreak. But first he must hold. 1.26am BST Nadal 5-5 Berrettini* (* denotes server)That backhand lets Berrettini down - he dumps one into the net on the first point. Another loose backhand has us at 0-30 and the underdog is under pressure. But what a response! His fourth drop shot of the match outfoxes Nadal and he then dials up an ace to take the score to 30-30. Berrettini then climbs into a backhand - and you know what comes next - set point for Nadal. An ace from the Italian levels it at 40-40 and he brings up advantage with another drop shot. An excellent serve helps him hold. Rafa has now passed up six break points, and Matteo has shown excellent nerves to stay in this set. 1.17am BST *Nadal 5-4 Berrettini (* denotes server)A really bad first serve from Rafa at 30-30 - but Matteo can’t exploit the second serve and sends his return into the net. Rafa holds and the Italian will need to hold his nerve - and serve - to stay in the set. 1.13am BST Nadal 4-4 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Berrettini cracks what would be a winner down the line against most players but Nadal hits it back with interest. The Italian may be thinking about that as he serves on the next point and sends down a double fault: 15-40. He responds well with a huge ace down the middle and then sends Rafa wide with the next serve and we’re at deuce. Nadal then dances around the court until his opponent sends it long and faces another break point - which is saved again when the Spaniard’s backhand goes just side - that’s the fifth break point Nadal has failed to convert (or, being more positive, Berrettini has saved). He seals the hold with a big serve. He’s done very well to stay in this set -considering the setting and opponent. 1.04am BST *Nadal 4-3 Berrettini (* denotes server)Rafa offers a little bit of hope for Matteo as he double faults to make it 30-30. The Italian then goes for broke as he attacks a good forehand from Nadal and - predictably - it goes into the net. Still, his best chance of winning here is taking a few risks. Nadal holds but Berrettini is holding his own so far and shows few signs of fatigue. 1.00am BST Nadal 3-3 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Berrettini’s backhand is 594 times better than yours. But against Rafa Nadal? It’s not causing much trouble. He flops one right into Nadal’s feet and it’s promptly slammed back to make it 15-15. That dropshot is back again though and it’s successful again as we go to 30-15. It spurs the Italian on to take the game in his best hold of the match so far. 12.54am BST *Nadal 3-2 Berrettini (* denotes server)Nadal’s second ace of the match - Berrettini has three already - takes us to 40-0. The game doesn’t last much longer after that. 12.52am BST Nadal 2-2 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Berrettini’s second service game is similar to his first - he starts well with two big serves before a few loose shots let Rafa back in. It doesn’t go to deuce this time though - Matteo shuts the door at 40-30 with a booming winner down the line. 12.46am BST *Nadal 2-1 Berrettini (* denotes server)Berrettini has already played a few drop shots tonight - on ESPN they think his compatriot Fabio Fognini may have told him that’s one way he can beat Nadal. Both times it has worked. Having said that, it’s another good game for Rafa and he holds. Related: Medvedev swats aside Dimitrov to make US Open final as sublime run goes on 12.43am BST Nadal 1-1 Berrettini* (* denotes server)Two big serves - and a nice drop shot - win Berrettini the first two points on his serve. A whipped forehand falls just out to take us to 30-30 and then a few unforced errors and Nadal has the first break point of the game. Berrettini holds eventually but it’s a long game for a man who has already played plenty of tennis this tournament. 12.35am BST *Nadal 1-0 Berrettini (* denotes server)Rafa serves first. We see Berrettini’s big forehand early as he sends down a winner to pull a point back at 30-0. John McEnroe thinks he should take an example from the New York Mets, who are playing just across the road tonight, and swing for the fences (except, unlike the Mets, he should make contact). A comfortable hold for the Spaniard despite Matteo’s winner. 12.31am BST Berrettini has described Nadal as “the greatest fighter ever in this sport” but he has a few weapons of his own, namely his big forehand and serve. He’s sent down 66 aces at Flushing Meadows this tournament and 111 forehand winners. These two have never met on court before either, so there’s always the surprise factor. On the other hand, Rafael Nadal is Rafael Nadal. 12.26am BST Our protagonists are now on court to a huge roar. Apart from the small matter of beating one of the greatest players of all time, Berrettini will be less fresh than his opponent - he’s spent 15 hours and 23 minutes on court at this tournament, while Rafa’s tournament has involved just nine hours and 43 minutes of play. That’s partly because his second-round opponent withdrew, and partly because he’s beaten a few shades of hell out of most of the men he has faced. 12.24am BST The players speak!Berrettini is asked how he is feeling after his five setter in the quarter-final. It turns out he is tired. “I slept a lot,” he says with a smile. “I was tired but I’m ready for this match. I’m really excited to play against this champion ... I’m ready.” 12.13am BST The winner of tonight will face Daniil Medvedev in the final, by the way - he dispatched Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets. It was a struggle for the Russian in the first but things went fairly comfortably after that. We’ll have a full report up soon. 12.00am BST Hello, and welcome to the second of tonight’s semi-finals. As you will see below there is a slight discrepancy in the career achievements of our protagonists. On the other hand, our underdog has 10 years to win a mere 80 titles and equal Rafa’s record. You may also notice that Matteo is a little more ... unpredictable when it comes to hitting big shots (although it should be noted that the Italian has spent far more time on court that Nadal). 9.30pm BST Tom will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s how Rafa got on in the quarter-final:Rafael Nadal overcame a spirited challenge from Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman to win 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in the US Open quarter-finals on Wednesday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium, staying on course for a fourth title at Flushing Meadows and 19th major championship to move within one of Roger Federer’s all-time record.The second-seeded Spaniard squandered double-break leads in the first and second sets, but recovered to win each of them with exquisite shotmaking and his trademark steel before closing out the match after two hours and 47 minutes. Continue reading...

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