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Photograph: Getty Images

Italian No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini has advanced to the Australian Open semifinals for the first time in his career, outmuscling Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 6-2 in a three hour, 49-minute battle on Rod Laver Arena.

“I’m really happy for myself, a great fight against Gael [Monfils]. A great match, a lot of emotions. I thought I had him in the third and then I found myself in the fifth but I really fought hard and I put everything on the court, that’s what I said to myself and that’s why I’m really happy," Berrettini said in his post-match on-court interview.

In a strong serving display from both players, there were only two break point opportunities in the first set - one for the Italian and one for the Frenchman. It was Berrettini who converted his opportunity, slamming down five aces to consolidate to and take the opening set 6-4.

The second set saw more break point opportunities on offer, but once again it was just a single break of serve going the Italian's way which would decide the set, Berrettini once again taking it 6-4.

With his Australian Open campaign now on life support, Monfils needed to lift his level significantly if he were to mount a comeback - and that he did. The Frenchman finally broke Berrettini and consolidated the break for a 5-2 lead. Once again it was only a single break that was required to decide the set, with Monfils claiming it 6-3.

With a spring in his step and the crowd right behind him, Monfils lifted his level once again and battled hard to break Berrettini twice in the fourth set, forcing a decider by securing the set 6-3.

As he did in his third-round clash with Carlos Alcaraz, Berrettini was able to regain his composure in the fifth set, blazing away to a 4-0 lead and eventually taking the set 6-2 to book his place in the semifinals on Friday.

“I was just focused on winning the match. I had a couple of breakpoints, I couldn’t make them and you know like I said my tennis is like this, it happened with [Carlos] Alcaraz as well, I was leading and then they start to play better I guess," Berrettini laughed.

“I got the win and I’m happy.”

As he bids to reach his maiden Australian Open final, Berrettini will now meet No. 6 seed and 2009 champion, Rafael Nadal, in the semifinals.

The pair have met just once prior - in the semifinals of the 2019 US Open, where Nadal claimed a straight-sets victory before lifting the title.

“It was the only time that I played Rafa [Nadal] and it was a really tough match for me and he won the tournament after. It was my first sem-ifinal so I didn’t really know what to expect," Berrettini explained.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a great fight, he played five sets as well today; he needs to rest as well.”


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