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Australian Open 2014 Day 12: Nadal blitzes Federer in three

Rafael Nadal reaches the Australian Open 2014 final
by Alexandra Willis at Melbourne Park
Friday 24 January 2014

Wimbledon.com's highlights from the twelfth day of play at the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne

Big win

Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3
It was a performance of relentless ruthlessness from Rafael Nadal, winning the 33rd episode of his rivalry with Roger Federer to reach his 19th Grand Slam singles final. Leapfrogging Pete Sampras on 18, but still behind Ivan Lendl and Roger Federer, Nadal won a tight opening set, four points the difference, to set the tone against Federer, and from then on, despite an injury timeout, never really looked back. Breaking for 4-2 in the second, and serving out, Nadal led two sets to love, a margin he has never lost from in a Grand Slam. Federer pushed him to hit his forehand at its best level, his backhand too, rifling winners past the Swiss at the net. In the third set, Nadal broke to lead again, but Federer wrestled it back, only to drop behind again. Nadal served it out in straight sets, a two hour and 24 minute performance that beat the impending rain, and the threat of what might happen if the Rod Laver roof closed.

"I played well tonight.  I think I played probably my best match of the tournament.  So very, very, very happy for this great new that I played my best match in that semifinal against Roger," Nadal said. 

He moves ahead in their head-to-head, 23 to 10, Federer’s last win coming at Indian Wells 2012.

"Every time I go on court I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I will be able to do it or if he will give me the chance to play the way that I want to play. 

Nadal is thus one win from a double career Grand Slam, leading Stanislas Wawrinka 12-0 in their head-to-head.

"Very special moment try to have the chance to be in another final," Nadal said. "I am really focused that I know that I need to play like today, and if not I will not have a chance to win the final.  Is not the final that I think playing normal I going to win; I need to play my best.

"Lot of years I didn't have a chance to play in this tournament that I really love so much with the perfect conditions, so is very special have the chance to be in the final here again." 

Federer, meanwhile, who posted 50 unforced errors, will become the Swiss No.2 next week. But, while disappointed, he sees the positives in having made the semi-finals here. 

"It was a great start to the season for me.  Would have been nice to win Brisbane, would have been nice to win here tonight, but you can't have it all.

"I think this is a very good start to the season for me overall.  I played some really good tennis here.  I still feel my best tennis is only ahead of me right now.  So I'm looking forward to the next couple of months, how they're going to play out for me, and hopefully by April I feel like I'm going to be at 100% again."

The comeback
Trailing 2-5 in the final set of the women’s doubles final, it looked like the dream of defending their title might be over for Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. But the world No.1s fought back, winning five games on the hop to complete their fourth Grand Slam title win together, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 over Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

 “Was very strange, very difficult.  We went from 2 Love up in the third, 5 2, playing not very good,” Errani said.

“From there we start, I don't know, just keep it going.  We won, I don't know.”

Last hurdle too much for Boulter
Britain's Katie Boulter was within touching distance of becoming the first British girl to win a Grand Slam junior title since Heather Watson won the US Open girls' singles in 2009. But Boulter and her partner, Ivana Jorovic of Serbia, the second seeds, were felled by top seeds Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine and Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia, 6-4, 6-2. 

Special guest
Pete Sampras. The winner of 14 Grand Slam titles flew in for the weekend on the 20th anniversary of one of his title wins in Melbourne, and had the pleasure of watching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal play against each other live for the first time.

When asked how he’d play tennis today, he said: “Serve and volley on both serves.  That's the only way I know how to play.”

And for the record, he won’t be joining the league of super-coaches. Retirement seems to suit him just fine.

Words of wisdom
“Tennis match is not care about how tall you are, how short you are.  This is the game.”

Li Na.

Photos of the day
The Federer  / Nadal rivalry in pictures

Video of the day
Rod Laver creates an artistic masterpiece

Quote of the day
“Too much talk about the blister”

Rafael Nadal

Tweet of the day
Courtside complaint tweetings: I don't like the gruntings, nor that he keeps hitting the ball back #annoying

@PseudoFed wins.

What to watch on Saturday

ROD LAVER ARENA

1pm - Boys’ singles final
Alexander Zverev (1) v Stefan Kozlov (2)

FB – Girls’ singles final
Jana Felt v Elizaveta Kulichkova (4)

NB 7.30pm – Women’s singles final
Li Na (4) v Dominika Cibulkova (20)

FB – Men’s doubles final
Eric Butorac & Raven Klaasen v Lukasz Kubot & Robert Lindstedt (14)

COURT 6

1pm – Men’s wheelchair singles final
Shingo Kunieda (1) v Gustavo Fernandez

FB  - Women’s wheelchair singles final
Sabine Ellerbrock (1) v Yui Kamiji (2) 

FB  - Quad wheelchair singles final
David Wagner (1) v Lucas Sithole (2)

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For all the reports and results from Melbourne Park, visit the Official Australian Open website



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