Nadal survives Dimitrov in five hour epic to meet Federer in final
Jan 29 2017 by Dustin Murphy
He's back! Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal fought his way to the final of the ongoing Australian Open through a sensational five-set win over Grigor Dimitrov.
Federer will play against the victor of the second semi-final clash between 2009 Melbourne champion Nadal or Bulgarian 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov.
And we could even be treated to another instalment of the legendary Federer v Nadal rivalry, if Rafa wins his semi-final. After surviving an epic five-setter against Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-final, a gassed Nadal admitted that playing Federer in a Grand Slam final hasn't crossed his mind in several years.
The ninth-seeded Spaniard fought off two break points in the eighth game of the fifth set, then hit a backhand victor down the line to break Dimitrov in the next game and take a 5-4 lead.
The match didn't live up to its classic billing, with nerves and tension causing uncharacteristic mistakes and unforced errors and four consecutive service breaks before Venus finally held for a 3-2 lead. Federer leads 2-1 on grass courts, and the hard courts are where the rivalry gets very close.
"I understand the magnitude of the match against Nadal, no doubt about it", Federer, who beat Stan Wawrinka in five sets in the semifinals, said. The tennis world hasn't been treated to a Federer-Nadal Grand Slam final since 2011 at the French Open, which Nadal won. Both are coming back from injury absences and were not expected to make it this far. I'm really happy for him.
"Now if the match were to come up, I know I have to play a good match because he does present different things". The Swiss and the Spaniard will be facing in the Australian Open men's final on Sunday.
It will be the first time the Williams sisters have faced each other in the final of a grand slam since Wimbledon in 2009. There's also history to play for: If Federer wins, he'll add an 18th Grand Slam trophy to his career record total, putting distance between himself and his rivals.
"All I care about is that I can win on Sunday". For those skeptics, his announcement following last year's Wimbledon that he was taking the rest of 2016 off to fully rehabilitate a knee injury confirmed that he would forever be stuck on 17.
"It's hard to describe the emotions", Nadal said in his post-match interview on the court. And there was a point in the fifth set (game 8) where Dimitrov seemed to have got Rafa's number.
However he believes this year's faster-paced Plexicushion at Melbourne Park will be more hospitable if the two greatest players of the current era meet - as so many wish - in Sunday's Australian Open final. When you feel that you are playing very well and you have to go from Roland Garros without going on court, I remember myself crying in the auto coming back to the hotel.
"Nadal is a lot younger, lot faster but let's see whether the old man can defy the logic, which I firmly believe that age is just a number, and win another Australian Open", he said.
"I didn't go into a direction where I felt like I had to reorganise my life or reorganise my tennis in any way. But it's 51 per cent, 49 per cent - I don't think there is a clear-cut favourite right now".