Rafael Nadal — Getty Images
In as anticipated a semifinal as you'll find in the game of tennis, Rafael Nadal absolutely dominated Roger Federer on Friday at the Australian Open to advance to his third Australian Open final.
Nadal beat the four-time champion of this event 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 in a match that was simply vintage Nadal, with the '09 winner hitting jaw-dropping winner after jaw-dropping winner that was simply too much for the 32-year-old Federer.
The first set was tight and exciting, but when Nadal finally took it in the tiebreaker the numbers started to lean his way. It's that first set that is so important when these two go at it, with Nadal moving to 7-0 in Grand Slams against Federer when he takes the first set.
The second set turned into a typical Nadal-Federer match of late, with Federer going for bigger shots to shorten the points which led to the first break of the match. It seemed no matter what Federer did in that second set it was Nadal who was not only returning the ball, but returning it for a winner.
Nadal went on a shot-making clinic during a part of that second set, hitting winners from spots most would never expect, and if that undefeated number was daunting for Federer after Nadal wins the first set, it's is the next number that is just astonishing.
Nadal moved to 137-0 in majors when winning the first two sets, and even after finally losing a service game in the third set to Federer, it was Nadal that calmly broke back three games later to give himself the advantage that was just too much for Roger.
Nadal now advances to his third Australian Open final to play Stanislas Wawrinka, a man that upset Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals and slipped past Tomas Berdych in the semis.
Wawrinka is not only facing a man that seems to be playing the best tennis in Melbourne by a long shot, but facing a competitor in Nadal that has never lost a set to Wawrinka over his entire career. Nadal is 12-0 all-time against Wawrinka and will be the obvious favorite on Sunday to win his second Australian Open title.
If Nadal can do what most expect him to do on Sunday it will be a huge step not only for a big 2014, but a chance to catch Federer's number of 17 Grand Slams. A win here would be his 14th Grand Slam, and with the French Open next, a place Nadal has won eight times, it seems likely that he will have 15 by the time the tennis world moves to Wimbledon.
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- Roger Federer
- Rafael Nadal