World No. 1 Rafael Nadal entered his 22nd Grand Slam semi-final after recording a hard-fought come from behind victory against Grigor Dimitrov, seed twenty-two. The Bulgarian opened the Australian Open 2014 quarter-final brightly by moving 3-0 ahead and not gifting Rafa any break points throughout the first set. The Spaniard then applied more pressure and it paid off immediately, yet Dimitrov was quick to break back before the players settled into the second set and headed towards the tie-break. Nadal was the man in charge in the thirteenth game and turned in his first set point to square things up. The 22-year-old Bulgarian got close to upsetting the favorite again in the third set, but the latter held off a set point and found his way to a second consecutive tie-break. Dimitrov produced another pair of opportunities to go 2-1 up, yet they both went begging and it was Nadal who got his nose in front in the end. His opponent ran out of steam in the fourth set in which the Melbourne 2009 title holder converted on two occasions to secure a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7), 6-2 win.
“I served slower. I served bad,” said Nadal. “I was able to win a match against a very difficult opponent, so that has much more value than when everything is great. And because of these victories, sometimes it happens that the next day you are able to play much better, and these victories at the end of the year are more important than the days that you are playing great.”
Sixth seed Roger Federer put in an age-defying performance to prevail over a three-time Melbourne finalist Andy Murray today and avenge the last year’s semi-final defeat on Rod Laver Arena. The Swiss Maestro produced the solitary break point in the middle of the opening set which he ended on a high note with a hold to love. The second set had a practically identical course of events with FedEx breaking in the fifth game and keeping the fourth-seeded adversary at bay for a double set cushion. He kept generating break points in the third set, but was only able to break the deadlock at 4-4 when he first brilliantly chased down a drop shot which was followed by a brace of his rival’s errors. However, Murray was determined to keep the match alive and battled to his first couple of break points before forcing an error from the Swiss. The tension grew as the athletes faced off in the tie-break where Roger squandered a double match point and eventually let the reigning Wimbledon champion reduce the lead to 2-1. Murray struggled to get through his service games in an entertaining fourth set and it was only a question of time when Federer would get into position to serve for the semi-final again. He closed out the clash in style with a series of service winners to reach the semis with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 triumph and stay in the race for his fifth Australian Open trophy.
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