Rafael Nadal Gets Emotional After Securing Chance to Compete for 21st Grand Slam Title

The Spanish tennis star is heading to the Australian Open finals after defeating Matteo Berrettini

Rafael Nadal
Photo: TPN/Getty Images

Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal will compete for his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title after an emotional win in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

The decorated athlete, 35, defeated Italy's Matteo Berrettini in a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win on Friday, clinching the advance to the Grand Slam finals Sunday, where he will face U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev of Russia.

Nadal is vying for his 21st Grand Slam win to break his tie with Roger Federer, who also currently holds 20 titles. He earned his 20th Grand Slam title in October 2020, sweeping Novak Djokovic in the French Open men's singles final in Paris.

The Spaniard was visibly emotional on the court after securing the win Friday, breaking down and appearing to cry as he knelt down and put his head into his bag.

He explained that it simply "means a lot" to reach the finals again, after struggling with a persistent foot injury.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Rafael Nadal
Ella Ling/Shutterstock

"For me it's all about the Australian Open more than anything else," Nadal told reporters after the match. "It's just an amazing event that, as I said a couple of days ago, I had been a little bit unlucky during my career with some injuries."

"There were times I played amazing finals with good chances — against Novak in 2012, against Roger 2017 — I was close a couple of times," he continued. "I feel very lucky that I won it once in my career in 2009 but I never thought about another chance in 2022."

Back in August, Nadal withdrew from the U.S. Open due to his injuries, ending his 2021 career. The news came after he also missed Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics after a devastating loss to Novak Djokovic in the French Open semifinals.

The No. 6 seed Nadal and No. 2 seed Medvedev will now face off for the Australian Open title on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. (3:30 a.m. ET).

Related Articles