The weather in Melbourne could not be more horrendous right now. The rain is heavy, the sky is dark and there was even thunder earlier. Although Nadal struggled badly in the heat against Denis Shapovalov, these indoor conditions certainly benefit Berrettini. His serve should be bolstered without having to fight the elements while Nadal’s heavy topspin will not bounce as high as in sunny conditions. We’ll see how this goes.
The deluge at Melbourne Park in the last half-hour or so is something to behold. It is difficult to tell inside Rod Laver Arena, where the roof has been rolled out, but it has been absolutely pelting down. This morning was hot and humid, as it has been in Melbourne for most of this tournament. One giant crack of thunder later and that all changed. Nadal and Berrettini would have had enough time to be aware pre-match they would have to play under covers but the rest of us are a bit soggy. Journalists and broadcasters are umbrella-pooling, if that is a thing, to get between the media centre and centre court.
Day 12 of the Australian Open and that can only mean one thing: it’s men’s semi-finals. Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas goes toe-to-toe with Daniil Medvedev, Russia’s second seed, later on but first up there’s the small matter of Matteo Berrettini, the Italian seventh seed, against Rafa Nadal, the man standing on the cusp of etching his name further into the annals of tennis history.
Nadal is now just two wins away from a 21st grand slam title, one which will put him out on his own above the absent Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. It will be quite some feat should he manage it, but first things first, he faces the tough prospect of finding a way past Berrettini if he is to return to Rod Laver Arena for Sunday’s showpiece and retain the chance of making history.
The pair are due on court “not before 2:30pm” local time so, with the day’s only preceding match already done and dusted, that’s in about 20 minutes. Don’t go anywhere, entertainment is assured.