Nadal Battles Into Melbourne Final, Plays Cressy
The Spanish superstar, in only his second match since August 2021, drew on his big-match experience on Saturday to battle past Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 56 minutes.
“It’s an important comeback after five months outside of competition and it means a lot to me to be back in Australia,” said Nadal, who last played at the Citi Open in August 2021. “I need to do some things better on court, but it’s step by step. My body is holding up, and that’s the main thing, and I need matches to get back to 100 per cent. I know my tennis isn’t perfect, but it’s about being patient and doing my best.”
Nadal will now prepare to challenge American qualifier Maxime Cressy, who will be appearing in his first ATP Tour final.
Pressure mounted on Ruusuvuori in the first set, which ended with a double fault and a forehand error. Nadal broke clear for a 5-3 lead in the 69-minute second set when Ruusuvuori made another groundstroke error, but the 22-year-old bounced back immediately. Nadal regained his composure and the match ended with the Finn making a forehand error.
Cressy continued his dream run earlier on Saturday. The 24-year-old knocked out former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-5, 7-6(9) in two hours and four minutes.
Cressy, who is already assured of his place in the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday, recovered from 3/6 in the second-set tie-break and closed out on his fourth match point. He struck 17 aces and saved all five break points he faced.
Melbourne Doubles Final Set
Top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski will take on sixth seeds Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi in the Melbourne doubles final on Sunday. Koolhof and Skupski knocked out third seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-2, 6-4 in 68 minutes, while Nedovyesov and Qureshi overcame Ricardas Berankis and Denys Molchanov 6-2, 6-2 in 57 minutes.