Nadal beats Federer to reach Australian Open final
Originally published on 24/01/14
The world No.1 stepped up his game to claim his 23rd career victory against his long-term rival with a 7-6(4) 6-3 6-3 win. Federer had been in impressive form as he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray to reach the last four in Melbourne, but was left to rue 50 unforced errors as he struggled to deal with Nadal’s ferocious forehand.
“I think I played probably my best match of the tournament,” Nadal said. “I’m very, very happy to have played my best match in the semi-final against Roger. He arrived in that match winning two great matches against Tsonga and Andy two days ago. I’m really happy with the way I played and it is a very special moment to try to have the chance to be in another final.”
Nadal, who did not play last year’s Australian Open because of a stomach virus after missing the second half of the 2012 season with a knee injury, came out on top of an evenly-contested first set before raising his level to wrap up victory in two hours and 24 minutes.
“I have had very emotional moments in Rod Laver Arena in the past, very emotional moments this year especially because it is the Grand Slam that I really had more problems in my career,” Nadal added. “A lot of years I didn’t have a chance to play in this tournament that I really love so much with the perfect conditions, so it is very special to have the chance to be in the final again.”
The top seed will face Federer’s compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka in Sunday’s final as he bids to become only the third man in history to win all four majors at least twice after Rod Laver and Roy Emerson.
“I know Stan. He’s a good friend, a great guy,” Nadal said of his next opponent. “I’m so happy for him that he’s in the final – he deserves it. He’s playing better and better every year. He’s serving unbelievably [well]. I know it will be a very, very tough match. If I am not able to play my best I think I will not have a chance.”
With a 12-0 head-to-head record against Wawrinka, Nadal will be the favourite to add a second Australian Open title to the one he won in 2009. Victory would see him draw level with Pete Sampras’ tally of 14 Grand Slams, just three behind Federer’s record haul of 17.