An emotional Rafael Nadal said he feels like his tennis career was "alive" again after reaching the final of the Australian Open on Friday. Nadal’s victory over Italian Matteo Berrettini left him one win away from a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam championship.
A few months ago, the 35-year-old Spaniard feared he might never play again because of a serious foot injury. He missed several major competitions last year, including Wimbledon, the Olympics, and the U.S. Open.
Nadal also struggled with COVID-19 infection last month. He said he told his family and team members, “if things continue like this…maybe it's a chance to say goodbye.”
But on Friday, Nadal recorded his 10th straight win to reach his sixth Australian Open final. Nadal could not stop crying after his victory Friday, saying "I feel alive in terms of my tennis life, in terms of my tennis career."
Nadal is currently in a three-way tie with Serbian Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer of Switzerland for the men’s Grand Slam record at 20. Federer has been out for some time with injuries, while top-ranked Djokovic had to leave Australia when his visa was canceled.
A victory in the final on Sunday would give Nadal the record. But he will need to defeat the world’s second-ranked player, Daniil Medvedev of Russia. Medvedev defeated Djokovic earlier in the U.S. Open final to prevent Djokovic from breaking the record.
This final will be Nadal’s 29th Grand Slam final of his career. He has won a record 13 French Open championships. But he has only won one Australian Open title in his career. That win came in 2009.
Nadal said of Sunday’s final, “For me, it’s a present, just to be here and play tennis."
Medvedev noted that this would be his second time playing against someone attempting to break the men’s record. “I’m going to play again against one of the greatest…Again, I’m going to play somebody going for the 21st Slam. I’m ready.”
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on reporting from Reuters and The Associated Press.
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rank - v. to place in a specific position in a group