The 35-year-old Spaniard advanced to the Australian Open final for a sixth time with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win over seventh-seeded Matteo Berrettini.
Rafael Nadal has marched into the final of the Australian Open, just one match away from becoming the all-time men's Grand Slam leader after overcoming Matteo Berrettini in their semi-final.
The 35-year-old Spanish great, seeded sixth, was too solid for the Italian seventh seed, winning 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in 2hr 55min on Friday.
The stark statistic confronting Berrettini, the first Italian man to play in the Australian Open semi-finals, was that Nadal had never lost in his 20 Grand Slam semi-finals after leading by two sets.
"It means a lot to me to be in the final again here," Nadal said, now unbeaten in 10 matches to start the 2022 season after winning a warm-up event in Melbourne.
Nadal will face either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's final.
"For me at the end it's about more than all these statistics, it's about being in the final of the Australian Open one more time. That means a lot to me," Nadal said.
It has been an extraordinary effort from Nadal at the year's opening major, having to modify his game to compensate for a degenerative bone disease in his left foot that ended his 2021 season last August.
He then caught Covid in December which, he said, made him "very sick".
Nadal is level on 20 majors with his golden era rivals Novak Djokovic, who was deported on the eve of the tournament, and Roger Federer, who is absent with injury.
His new win gives the Spaniard an opportunity to go clear at the top and add to his lone 2009 Melbourne Park crown in his sixth Australian Open final.
"I feel very lucky that I won once in my career here in 2009, but I never thought about another chance in 2022," Nadal said.
"One month and a half ago I didn't know if I will be able to be back to the tour. So here I am, and thanks life for it."