In an interesting quarter-final clash as part of US Open 2019, after gaining an ascendance of 4-0 in the first set and 5-1 in the second, the three-time US champion Rafael Nadal dropped his intensity to allow his opponent, Diego Schwartzman to make a comeback to make the things interesting.
However, he recovered just in time on both the occasions as the Spaniard survived the scare to eventually bag the contest in straight sets 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in 2 hours, 47 minutes to advance to his 33rd Major semifinal in his career and third in a row at Flushing Meadows, New York.
With the World No.2 qualifying for the semi-final spot at the last Major of the year as well, 2019 has been the first instance since 2008 where the Spaniard has managed to qualify for the semi-finals at all the Grand Slams of the year and will meet the first-time semi-finalist at a Major, Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in their upcoming semi-final battle at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Matteo Berrettini’s incredible run to the semi-finals of US Open so far has been a fascinating story and with each passing day, the 23-year old Italian is just scaling new heights.
Before engaging in an epic, 3 hours, 57 minutes, five-set long battle against the Frenchman Gael Monfils in the quarters, the Italian also overcame Andrey Rublev, the man who stunned Tsitsipas in the very first round and the 23-year old appears all but ready to engage in an another intense, physical battle when he takes on the Spaniard in the second semi-final.
Interestingly, the upcoming semi-final contest between Nadal and Berrettini would be their first-ever meeting on the tour.
Out of the big three of men’s tennis, the 23-year old Italian has just faced Roger Federer and in their only meeting, Berrettini suffered a defeat in straight sets in their Round of 16 contest earlier this year at Wimbledon.
However, having won titles at Budapest and Stuttgart in 2019, Berrettini is enjoying the best year on the tour so far and with a place in the US Open final on the line, there is no doubt the Italian will bring to the table everything he has in his armoury in an effort to dislodge the Spaniard.
With his arch-rivals Federer and Novak Djokovic already knocked out in earlier rounds, Rafael Nadal will have no one else but himself to blame for if he lets such an opportunity go begging. Knowing Nadal over the years, there are no complacency issues for the Spaniard and one can expect the Spaniard to run on full steam in his semi-final clash as he aims to march one step closer towards his 4th US Open title and 19th overall Major.
If there is anyone left in the draw who can physically challenge the world No.2, the tall and hugely built Berrettini has to be the one. However, with a walkover in his second round, Nadal has played one match less and has spent less time on court as compared to his junior opponent and indeed if this clash turns out to be a physical match, the exhaustion factor can turn against the young Italian aspirant, the one who is eyeing his first-ever Grand Slam final.
In the upcoming men’s second semifinal at the US Open, can Berrettini, executing his plans to pinpoint precision, play out of his skin to topple the title favourite or will Nadal cruise to yet another routine win to reach within a touching distance of bagging his 19th Major?
Let the battle across generations get underway at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in the second semi-final of US Open 2019.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in straight sets.Published 06 Sep 2019, 09:32 IST