‘I feel alive’: Nadal conquers self-doubt as he chases record 21st major

​Rafael Nadal says he feels his tennis career is “alive” again after reaching his sixth Australian Open final.

Nadal made it through to the men’s tournament decider via a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 triumph over Italian seventh seed Matteo Berrettini in the first of the men’s semifinals.

He will contest his 29th final at a major, with either world number two Daniil Medvedev or fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas as his opponent.

Victory on Sunday night will push the Spaniard ahead of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to the top of the men’s all-time major winners list with 21 titles.

Nadal endured a challenging 2021, having ended his season prematurely in August because of a foot injury.

He also tested positive to COVID-19 in December.

The 35-year-old admitted he had doubts about his chances at the Australian Open, describing his time on the sidelines as “very tough”.

“It’s surprising for me to be able to play at the level that I am playing,” Nadal told reporters at Melbourne Park.

Nadal — seeded sixth in Melbourne — said he felt rejuvenated as he looked to win his second Australian Open championship, 13 years after first enjoying success.

“I feel alive in terms of my tennis life, my tennis career,” he said.

Berrettini arrived in Melbourne after a breakthrough 2021 season.

He reached his first final of a major when he was runner-up to Djokovic at Wimbledon, while he achieved his career-high ranking of seven, which he still holds.

The 25-year-old was slow out of the blocks in Friday’s semifinal against Nadal, barely laying a glove on his opponent in the opening two sets.

He rebounded to win the third set, but Nadal had enough in the tank to wrap up victory in the fourth.

Berrettini said he only had himself to blame for his poor start.

“The attitude in the first two, it wasn’t good enough,” he said.

“I think that the score proved it.”

Berrettini acknowledged Nadal was a worthy winner.

“Rafa played better than me and he deserved the win,” he said.

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