Australian Open semi-finals – Nadal beats Federer 3-1 to reach 15th Grand Slam final
Rafael Nadal will face the winner of tomorrow’s semi-final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic after he beat old rival Roger Federer 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-4. Meanwhile in the women’s draw, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka will face each other in Saturday’s final for the Australian Open title and the world number one spot after they both won gruelling semi-finals.
For Nadal, today’s victory secures his dominance over Roger Federer, two of the greatest tennis players to ever live fought it out again, and as it has been in more recent years, it was Nadal on top again with a three sets to one victory.
Federer was out for revenge after the 2009 Australian Open final heartbreak when these two last faced each other in Melbourne, and he raced into an early 4-1 lead in the first set, only to see it quickly wiped out by the Spaniard. The 16-time Grand Slam winner took the advantage in the tie-break, to take the first set 6-7 (7-5).
World number two, Nadal, was not going to lie down easily, and took total control of the second set despite losing his serve in the first game, breaking Federer three times en route to an easy 6-2 win. The third and most decisive set however, displayed some of the best tennis that these two great rivals have produced, with Federer having to save three break points in the second game. Federer had a break of his own in the seventh game to lead 4-3, but the 25-year-old Nadal showed just why he is so difficult to beat, winning the next three games to book his place in Sunday’s final.
And the 18th victory of Nadal against Federer was confirmed when the Swiss maestro hit a forehand outside the court when he was down 5-4 in the fourth set.
“During the first set he (Federer) was too agressive, almost impossible to stop him”, Nadal said during the Q&A with Jimmy Connors.
“Losing four set points in a row is very hard, especially against the greatest in the history – I prayed to win the fifth and I did so”.
“It’s fantastic to have a player making no mistakes and have such a career, I tried all my life to play better than him”.
When asked what was his advice for Andy Murray who has to play against Djokovic, he said: “My advice is not worth much as I have lost the last six matches against him”.
Meanwhile, in the women’s game, there will be a new queen of tennis on Saturday when Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka take to the Rod Laver arena. Sharapova, whose 6-3 4-6 3-6 win over current Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova lasted over two hours, said “sometimes even when you’re not playing your best tennis you can find a way to win. No matter how good or bad you play, you just try to win your point and that’s what I tried to do”.
Third seed Victoria Azarenka, who is bidding to win her first Grand Slam, broke down after her 6-4 1-6 6-3 victory over last year’s winner Kim Clijsters. Azarenka will have to improve her service game if she is to have any chance of beating four time Grand Slam winner Sharapova on Saturday and was at times out played by the Belgian Clijsters. Azarenka said afterwards “I felt like my hand is about 200 kilograms and my body is about 1,000 and everything is shaking, but that feeling when you finally win is such a relief. My God, I cannot believe it’s over. I just want to cry”.
 R Nadal (ESP) d  R Federer (SUI) 6-7(5) 6-2 7-6(5) 6-4
 V Azarenka (BLR) d  K Clijsters (BEL) 6-4 1-6 6-3
 M Sharapova (RUS) d  P Kvitova (CZE) 6-2 3-6 6-4