1/26/12 2:02 PM | Cheryl Murray
Rafael Nadal came back from a set and a break down to defeat one of the tournament favorites and long-time rival Roger Federer.
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal posted his 18th career win over Roger Federer with a scrappy come-from-behind win to advance to the Australian Open finals. The more than 3 ½ hour match featured thrilling shots, changes of momentum and eventually a fourth straight Slam final appearance for Nadal.
Federer came out on like he meant business, with his game plan clear – to hit Nadal off the court. And for five games into the first set, he did just that. Federer broke Nadal right out of the shoot and went up 4-1 before the Spaniard got his legs under him.
Unfortunately for the Federer camp, Nadal’s forehand started to break down the Federer backhand side at 4-2. The Swiss donated a few too many second serves and gave back the service break on a passing shot winner from Nadal. Both men held on to force a tiebreaker, where Federer served his way to the first set.
Nadal looked rattled in his first service game of the second set and Federer took control of the match up a set and a break. The lead didn’t last long, however. Nadal broke back immediately to level the set. Even with that break, the world No. 2 wasn’t finished bullying Federer around the court. At 2-3, Nadal smacked a draw-dropping cross court passing shot to set up more break points; he converted on the second one with another beautiful pass.
The 2009 champion closed out the least competitive set of the match with a third break of Federer’s serve after the two men were forced to wait through 10 minutes of fireworks to commemorate Australia Day.
Nadal looked as though he was on his way to an easy third set when Federer started his first service game with consecutive double faults and a 0-40 opening for the Spaniard to get the early break. Federer, with the help of an error at 15-40, clawed his way to deuce and the hold. With renewed energy, Federer secured the first break of the match at 3-3. But before he had a chance to celebrate, Nadal broke back immediately.
The ensuing tiebreak showcased a shaky Federer who couldn’t seem to buy a first serve. Nadal shot out to a 6-1 lead, but a few nervous points from Nadal and some great serving from the Swiss saw Federer to 5-6. Nadal finally secured the set on his fifth chance with Federer netting the return.
The fourth set featured the best quality of the match. Both men played well off the baseline, but it was Nadal who got the first break with a pair of staggering winners on the dead run to earn the right to serve for the match.
At 5-4, with the match on his racket, Nadal once again found himself in trouble. Federer earned himself a break point, only to botch a poorly-timed overhead. The No. 3 seed earned a second break point, but sent a backhand into the net to erase the chance. Nadal finally earned a second match point which he finally converted on a Federer error.
The win sends Nadal into his first Australian Open final for the first time since his 2009 win. He awaits the winner of the second men’s semifinal, Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic.
Find the latest tennis odds at Unibet.com
Scan QR code to access Unibet mobile.
Bet on Sports wherever you are and whenever you like, with Unibet's quick and simple mobile client you can place bets, check results and see live odds.
For more info about QR codes & scanners click here.