Australian Open 2017: Rafael Nadal eyes Roger Federer final

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal has won seven of his eight matches against Grigor Dimitrov, although the Bulgarian won in Beijing when they last met last year
Australian Open 2017
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne Dates: 16-29 Jan
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website; TV highlights on BBC Two and online.

Rafael Nadal is hoping to meet old rival Roger Federer in the Australian Open final by beating in-form Grigor Dimitrov in their semi-final on Friday.

Spaniard Nadal, 30, has not reached a major final since winning his 14th Grand Slam at the 2014 French Open.

Federer, 35, is going for a record 18th major title after an epic semi-final win over fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

"I have to play my best because Grigor is playing with high confidence," said ninth seed Nadal.

The pair meet at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne about 08:30 GMT on Friday.

Nadal has been troubled by injuries in recent years, but reached his first Grand Slam semi-final since 2014 with a superb quarter-final victory over Canadian third seed Milos Raonic.

If Nadal beats 25-year-old Dimitrov then all four singles finalists will be aged over 30, as 35-year-old Serena Williams meets older sister Venus, 36, in the women's final.

Dimitrov, who has never reached a Grand Slam final, is aiming to prevent Federer, Nadal and the Williams sisters contesting the two finals at a major for the first time since 2008 Wimbledon.

The Bulgarian 15th seed is playing some of the best tennis of his career having won the Brisbane International earlier this month and then carrying on his form in Melbourne.

He beat 11th seed David Goffin of Belgium in straight sets in the quarter-finals to record his 10th successive victory.

"I feel like I have all the tools to go further and my job isn't over yet," he said. "I'm looking forward to my match. I think I'm prepared.

"I'm ready to go the distance. I don't shy away from that. I'm confident enough to say that as I feel good physically, and overall on the court."

I'm Rafa's number one fan - Federer

If Nadal wins his semi-final, he and Federer would contest their ninth Grand Slam final - and their first since the French Open in 2011, when the Spaniard won in four sets.

"Rafa has presented me with the biggest challenge in the game," said Federer, who is seeded 17th after returning from a six-month lay-off to rest his left knee.

"I'm his number one fan. His game is tremendous. He's an incredible competitor.

"I'm happy we had some epic battles over the years and of course it would be unreal to play here. I think both of us would never have thought we would be here playing in the final."

Federer has a perfect record against Dimitrov, winning all five of their previous meetings.

"He has got a very complete game. He can mix it up really well. He's very confident and you never want to play confident players, but it's him or Rafa," said Federer, who last won a Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2012.

"It's going to be tough either way."

Roger Federer
Federer has won just 11 of his 34 matches against long-time rival Nadal, with only two coming at a Grand Slam (Wimbledon 2006 and 2007)

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