AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2014
Ruthless Nadal Takes Down Federer To Reach Final
by ATP Staff|
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will play Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open final after defeating Roger Federer 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3 in a stunning display on Friday night in Melbourne. Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and Pete Sampras were courtside to witness the Spaniard produce a ruthless performance, punctuated with remarkable passing shots, to which Federer had no answer.
While Nadal excelled, he needed to to combat the high level of aggression from Federer. The Swiss did not relent in coming to the net, despite often being thwarted by Nadal's passing shots, and stepped in to hit over his backhand returns, instead of slicing them all.
"I played well tonight," said 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 arrived to that match winning two great matches against [Jo-Wilfried] Tsonga and Andy [Murray] two days ago. I am really very happy the way I played tonight, and it is a very special moment to have the chance to be in another final."
Nadal recorded his fifth win in a row over Federer to advance to his 19th Grand Slam championship match. Playing in 19 major finals ties Nadal in second place with Ivan Lendl. Federer tops the all-time list with 24 final appearances.
The Spaniard is bidding to win his 14th major title and his second at Melbourne Park, having beaten Federer in the 2009 final. He also finished runner-up in 2012, losing out to Novak Djokovic in just under six hours in one of the greatest ever Grand Slam finals.
Nadal has a commanding 12-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record over Wawrinka, who advanced to his first major final by beating three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals and Tomas Berdych in the semis.
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"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.
"He's serving unbelievable. He's hitting the ball very strong from the baseline. He is very, very quick. I know it will be a very, very tough match. If I am not able to play my best, I think I will not have chances because he's coming into this match with a lot of victories and playing great."
Nadal improved to a 19-3 record in Grand Slam semi-finals and a 23-10 record over Federer as he claimed victory in two hours and 23 minutes. He will look to make history in the final by becoming the first man in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slam singles titles twice.
MOST OPEN ERA GRAND SLAM MATCH-UPS
|Players||No. of Match-Ups||W-L|
|Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal||11||Nadal leads 8-2|
|Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic||11||Federer leads 6-5|
|Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal||11||Nadal leads 8-3|
|Ivan Lendl v John McEnroe||10||Lendl leads 7-3|
|Andre Agassi v Pete Sampras||9||Sampras leads 6-3|
|Jimmy Connors v John McEnroe||9||McEnroe leads 6-3|
|Stefan Edberg v Ivan Lendl||9||Edberg leads 5-4|
|Ivan Lendl v Mats Wilander||9||Lendl leads 5-4|
Federer was left to rue 24 unforced errors in the first set as he fell behind in the pair’s 33rd meeting. He had saved two break points in the seventh game and a third in the ninth game to force a tie-break, but Nadal dictated from the baseline to surge into a 5-1 lead. Federer fought back to 5-4, but Nadal earned two set points with a big forehand into the corner and converted his first as Federer went long on a backhand.
No matter what Federer threw at Nadal in the second set, it came back at him with interest. The Spaniard had treatment on the blister on his left hand after the first game, but was seemingly unaffected as he went after Federer in the sixth game. Federer was rewarded for aggressive play on three break points, but it only delayed the inevitable.
Nadal engineered a 15/40 lead in the sixth game with a remarkable forehand pass, played from behind him after Federer had seemingly salvaged the point with a deep forehand volley. This time there would be no escape for Federer. Nadal gained his first break of the match with a forehand winner into the corner. The Spaniard trailed 0/30 as he served for the set, with Federer attacking relentlessly, but reeled off four straight points to take the set.
Federer was in trouble early in the third set as he netted a backhand volley to lose his serve in the third game. But the Swiss immediately worked his way back into the match, getting his first break points of the match after two hours of play when Nadal missed a forehand wide to go down 15/40. Federer came out on top in the following baseline exchange to draw level at 2-2, to the delight of the crowd on Rod Laver Arena.
Federer staved off another Nadal threat as he served at 2-2, holding from 15/40 down, but Nadal regained his lead in the seventh game as a Federer forehand clipped the top of the net and landed long. From there, Nadal made no mistake, breaking Federer again in the ninth game to triumph.
"He did a good job," said Federer. "He didn't make many errors, even though I was trying to hit hard and flat. I tried to play my game. Sometimes I did play very well and sometimes I didn't. But he overall was more consistent. He deserved to win tonight. He was better.
"[I'm frustrated at] the lack of chances I was able to create on the return. I thought I was going to get into more of his service games. If you get the lead at least in the first or second set, at one point maybe I can also play a bit more freely, do a bit more what I was hoping to do, play a bit more aggressive. But like that you kind of always have to keep playing to stay with him, to play the score."
Federer had defeated three-time finalist Andy Murray in four sets to reach his 11th consecutive Australian Open semi-final. The 32-year-old Swiss was bidding to reach his 25th major final and win his 18th major trophy. The Basel native is a four-time champion at Melbourne Park, lifting the trophy in 2004, 2006-07 and again in 2010.
- Video courtesy Tennis Australia