Australian Open 2014: Nadal beats Federer to reach final

Rafael Nadal powered past Roger Federer to reach the Australian Open final and maintain his dominance over the 17-time Grand Slam champion.

The world number one came through 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 6-3 and goes on to face Federer's compatriot, Stanislas Wawrinka, for the title on Sunday.

And the Spaniard, 27, will be a strong favourite to claim his 14th Slam, and become only the third man to win all four majors at least twice.

"I played well," he said. "I played probably my best match of the tournament, so I'm very, very, very happy that I played my best match in the semi-final against Roger."

Nadal was in brilliant form in his 33rd meeting with Federer, overcoming a blister on his racquet hand and, if anything, growing stronger as the match progressed.

Analysis

"Federer's form here in Melbourne offers the hope he can still enjoy an Indian summer, but it's increasingly hard to see how he can ever beat a fully-fit Nadal in Grand Slam play.

"The world number one learnt to enjoy the sight of Federer at the net - picking him off with some exquisite passes - and allowed his opponent two miserly break points with some commanding serving.

"Nadal is starting to look more and more like the 2013 model, and Stan Wawrinka will need to hit some explosive groundstrokes to trouble a man moving in on a 14th Grand Slam title."

"The blister is good," added Nadal. "It looks better every day. We are doing the right things. The blister today is not a problem any more for normal life. It's not painful.

"The problem is to play tennis. The only problem is the position of the blister, the place."

Federer, 32, had captured the headlines throughout the tournament with his eye-catching form, built around some excellent serving, but he was constantly under pressure against Nadal.

The Spaniard missed two backhands on break points in game seven as both men struggled off that wing, and another went begging in game nine, but he dominated the tie-break.

Federer made a costly error with a volley into the net and, despite cutting a 5-1 deficit to 5-4, could not prevent Nadal closing it out.

Nadal ripped through the opening game of the second set with some huge forehands, followed by an unexpected double-handed backhand drop shot, but then took a medical timeout for attention to his palm.

"We made the tape a little bit smaller," Nadal explained afterwards. "That helped me.

"I don't know how many times I can change the tape during the match, because to change the tape I need the trainer.

"If that happens again, I don't know how the rules are, but it's a little bit more risky."

Match stats

Nadal Federer

3

Aces

8

1

Double faults

1

65

First serve %

66

174kph (108mph)

Average 1st serve

182kph (113mph)

144kph (89mph)

Average 2nd serve

153kph (95mph)

77

Returns in %

74

4/14

Break points won

1/2

3/10

Net points won

23/42

74/127

Baseline points won

37/95

It did not prove to be a helping hand for Federer, in fact quite the opposite as Nadal came storming back.

Only some big serving saw Federer save three more break points at 2-2, but he was finally undone two games later when a breathtaking angled backhand and a heavy forehand into the corner put Nadal 4-2 in front, and on his way to a two-set lead.

For all the positive influence of new coach Stefan Edberg over the past fortnight, when Federer dumped a backhand volley into the net to drop serve early in the third, the outcome of the match had a very familiar feel.

There was a flash of hope for the thousands of Federer fans on Rod Laver Arena when their man finally broke to hit straight back, and some serve-volleying helped him to a 3-2 lead, but Nadal was soon on the hunt again.

The relentless pressure told as Federer's forehand flew long to give up his serve at 3-3, and Nadal swept to victory with his fourth break of the day thanks to a succession of brilliant forehands.

It gave him a 23rd win over Federer, who still has not beaten Nadal at a Grand Slam since the 2007 Wimbledon final, and never away from the All England Club.

"I think Rafa did a good job of keeping the pressure on me," said Federer. "I might have gotten a little tired, maybe in the third set, but overall I'm very happy.

"Rafa played well and he played solid, so I don't have crazy regrets tonight other than maybe not having created more opportunities for myself. Rafa was his usual self, what I kind of expected."