Rafael Nadal is one victory away from becoming the greatest male Grand Slam tennis champion.
The sixth-seeded Spaniard beat seventh-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Friday in Melbourne.
If Nadal can get past second-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the final, he would capture his record 21st major title. Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic currently share the mark with 20 apiece.
Nadal, 35, is headed to his sixth Australian Open final and is seeking his second championship in the event. He insisted that his focus is on the upcoming match, not on his place in the sport's history.
"For me, it's all about the Australian Open more than anything else," he said in his on-court interview after beating Berrettini. "It's just an amazing event. ... I have been a little bit unlucky during my career (here) with some injuries, and at times I played amazing finals with good chances against Novak in 2012, against Roger in 2017 (both five-set defeats).
"I was close a couple times. I feel very lucky that I won once (here) in my career, 2009. But I never thought about another chance in 2022."
To get that opportunity, he had to hold off Berrettini, who got back into the match despite Nadal's hot start.
"I started the match playing great," said Nadal, who notched his 500th career hardcourt win. "The first two sets had been the best (in) a long time. Then I know how good Matteo is. He is a very solid player, very dangerous. ...
"(After losing the third set), we need to suffer, we need to fight in the fourth (set) again. That's the only way to be where I am today. Honestly, it means a lot to me to be in the final again here."
If Nadal prevails Sunday, he would join Djokovic, Roy Emerson and Rod Laver as the only male players to win each of the majors at least twice.
Nadal has won three of four head-to-head matches with Medvedev, including a five-setter in the 2019 U.S. Open final.
Medvedev, 25, reached his second straight Australian Open final with a 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 defeat of No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.
"Some matches are very even," Medvedev said after breaking Tsitsipas four times in the two-hour, 30-minute match.
"I missed some balls at a few moments where I could have got a break and he missed a few at the start of the third set. Then from 5-4 in the third (set) I just found some momentum and started to read his serve and put every ball in. I hit some very important passing shots and his energy went down because of this and my energy went up."
Medvedev won his first Grand Slam title at last year's U.S. Open, beating Djokovic in straight sets.
--Field Level Media