Rafael Nadal extended his dominance over Roger Federer with a commanding straight-sets victory in Friday night’s second semifinal to march into the Australian Open final for the third time.
The world No.1 was in outstanding form – curling down-the-line passing shots, thundering crosscourt backhands and some of the most desperate chase-downs you’ll ever see.
Federer did his best to attack, coming into the net at every opportunity, but he was simply unable to penetrate Nadal’s iron-clad defense.
And if losing a semifinal wasn’t bad enough, the patriotic sixth seed was also downtrodden that he missed the very rare opportunity of an all-Swiss final at a major.
“Wish I could have won here tonight and then, you know, given an all‑Swiss final. That's something I'll regret, you know, for a long time.”
Federer’s buddy Stan “The Stanimal” Wawrinka no doubt would have been watching, but he probably wouldn’t have liked what he saw.
Wawrinka has never defeated Nadal. The Spaniard has won all 12 of their encounters to date and will be heavily favoured to make it 13-zip on Sunday.
But Federer, unlike the bookies, believes Wawrinka is a chance.
“There's no reason not to believe that he can beat Rafa. He's clearly got a tough record against him, but many players have that.
“Pressure's clearly on Rafa because he's got to win this finals. Stan's in his first Grand Slam finals, so that makes Stan also unpredictable. He's got to use that to his advantage.”
Should Nadal win his second Australian Open title – his first came in 2009 – he’ll become the first man in the Open era to win all four majors on two or more occasions.
In other matches on Friday, No.1 seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci clinched the women’s doubles final with a 6-4 3-6 7-5 win over Russian third seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
In the mixed doubles semifinal, sixth seeds Sania Mirza and Horia Tecau denied 2013 champions Jarmila Gajdosova and Matt Ebden the opportunity to defend their title, beating them 2-6 6-3 [10-2]. They’ll play 2013 Wimbledon mixed doubles champs Kristina Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor in the final.
What did you say?
“Either you have rules or you don't. If you don't have rules, it's fine. Everybody can do whatever they want to do.”
- Roger Federer speaks out about the enforcing of time violations
It’ll be a long drive home for …
Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina
Leading 5-2 in the deciding set of the women’s doubles final against top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, Russian third-seeded duo Makarova and Vesnina looked home. But they never made it. Neither was able to serve out the match and the Italian pair won five games straight to clinch back-to-back Australian Open doubles titles.