Rafael Nadal thinks his love of the game is a huge driver, not the quest of overall records, as he prepares for his seventh Australian Open semi-final.
On Friday, Rafael Nadal will play Matteo Berrettini in the first semi-final, while Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev will face off in the other last-four encounter.
If the 35-year-old is successful and then wins the final, he would have won a total of 21 Grand Slam titles, surpassing Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
Nadal only agreed to compete in the Australian Open a few days before his trip, having doubts he’d be back at all last season due to foot concerns.
But, so far, he has been too brilliant for all of his opponents, and on Tuesday, he demonstrated his determination and resilience by overcoming a five-set test against Denis Shapovalov in the quarter-finals.
Nadal remarked prior to his semi-final against Berrettini, “I’m just enjoying playing tennis.”
“Of course, I want to keep winning, but it’s because I enjoy what I’m doing, not because I want to achieve or have more than others.” I’d like to do this for as long as feasible.
“I had a lot of reservations in the last six months about whether I’d be able to keep going, but today I’m feeling okay.” We are in a position where we have won a tournament and are in the Australian Open semi-finals, which is incredible for me.
“In terms of what might happen in the future, I honestly don’t give a damn. I don’t think my future happiness will be determined by whether I win one more Grand Slam than the others or if they win more Grand Slams than me.”
Nadal, on the other hand, still wants the title and finds himself in the position that Djokovic has found himself in recently: trying to hold off the next generation.
Berrettini, the seventh-seeded Italian, has established himself as a reliable performer at the Slams and is aiming to repeat his Wimbledon final appearance by reaching a second Sunday clash.
The 25-year-old, who lost to Nadal in their only prior match at the US Open in 2019, said: “This is another fantastic opportunity for me.”
“I’ve cheered for him so many times in this event and other tournaments, and playing alongside him in the semi-finals at Rod Laver is something I’ve fantasised about since I was a kid.”
“But now I’m desperate to win this match, and I’m confident that I can. It’ll be a tough one, but I’m in the semis of a Slam for the third time, which indicates I’ve reached my limit and want to go even further.”
The other match pits second-seeded Medvedev against fourth-seeded Tsitsipas in a rematch of last year’s semi-final.
Medvedev won easily a year ago but comes into this match having battled back from two sets to love down and survived a match point against Felix Auger-Aliassime in a dramatic and draining quarter-final on Wednesday night.
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