World no. 1 Rafael Nadal ended sixth seed Roger Federer’s unbeaten run and will be chasing his second Australian Open title after eliminating the arch-rival in straight sets today. The Spaniard was first victorious at the Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne in 2009, whilst FedEx lifted the trophy on four occasions prior to the semi-final encounter this evening.
In a highly competitive opener on fully-packed Rod Laver Arena the Swiss Maestro was forced to avert three break points threats in the middle of the set, whilst Rafa managed to come through the service games without facing any danger. He had the upper hand in the subsequent tie-break as well – after an early exchange of mini-breaks Roger surrendered a couple of more rallies on his serve to find himself in a 5-1* deficit. While he grabbed the following three points, he failed to turn the tide of the breaker which ultimately went the Spaniard’s way.
Nadal’s dominant display continued in the second set as he kept applying pressure on the rival’s serve – Federer survived a triple break point scare in the fourth game, but gave away a service game a few minutes later to allow the top seed go a set and a break up. Rafa soon finished the job by converting on the first set point for a double set cushion.
The Swiss opened the third set by holding to love, but got into more trouble shortly after by dropping another serve. Nevertheless, he came up with the first pair of break points in the follow-up game where Rafa enabled him to peg back with a series of misplaced forehand shots. Nadal then regained his composure and nearly restored the advantage, but wasted a double break point and let the opponent took the 3-2 lead. However, Federer became too erroneous to prevent the Spanish champion storming through the rest of the set and completing an overwhelming 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 victory in less than two hours and a half of play. The head-to-head score now stands at 23-10 in the favor of the current number one.
FedEx served eight aces, five more than Nadal, yet he conceded twice as many unforced errors as the Spaniard (50-25) who will be a favorite to win the title clash against Stan Wawrinka on Sunday as he has beaten the Swiss number two in all 12 of their previous meetings without ever losing a set.
“I played well tonight,” commented Nadal. “I think I played probably my best match of the tournament. So I am very, very, very happy for this great news that I played my best match in that semi-final against Roger.”
“He’s playing great,” said Nadal of Wawrinka. “He’s a good friend, great guy. So I am happy for him that he’s in the final. He deserves it. He’s playing better and better every year.