After a lacklustre 2013, Swiss ace shows he’s still got fuel in his tank by beating Murray in Australian Open quarters
Melbourne: Roger Federer is dreaming of Grand Slam titles again but first he must get past his old rival Rafael
Nadal. The 17-time Grand Slam champ came into the Australian Open as an outsider after his 2013 struggles but has looked back to something like his best form in wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray.
Roger Federer celebrates after beating Andy Murray in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/AFP
Having lost to Murray in the semi-finals 12 months ago, Federer took revenge to reach the Last Four in Melbourne for the 11th time. The 32-year-old has not made a Grand Slam final since winning the last of his titles with victory over Murray at Wimbledon in 2012.
He has beaten Nadal only 10 times in 32 meetings, and not at a Slam since the Wimbledon final of 2007, but the Spaniard is struggling with a blister on the palm of his left hand and battled past Grigor Dimitrov.
For Federer, meanwhile, there is also the tantalising possibility of an all-Swiss final, with Stanislas Wawrinka due to play Tomas Berdych today after his upset of Novak Djokovic.
“For me it’s an amazing result to be in the semis,” said Federer. “This one feels different because of the tougher times I’ve had in the Slams. Plus what I really love is another Swiss is in the semis as well. It’s the first time in history. So that’s a big deal.
I didn’t think about it all the time when I was playing, but it was definitely inspiring tennis by him. For me as well it’s a dream run, and I hope I can keep it up against Rafa. Clearly when you’re in the semis, you start dreaming. There’s no doubt about that.”
Federer will face Nadal at a Slam for the first time since the semi-finals here two years ago, and he said: “He’s been tough to play against, no doubt. I’m happy I get a chance to play him in a Slam again. “The head-to-head record is in his favour.
Rafael Nadal’s bandaged hand. Pic/AFP
I’m looking forward to speaking to Stefan, because when we spoke together when he came to Dubai and we spoke about the game, we clearly spoke about playing Rafa, as well. He thought he had some good ideas.”
Nadal had to fight back from a set down against first-time Slam quarter-finalist Dimitrov and admitted he was “so lucky” not to drop the third as well.
Dimitrov had three set points and on the second he pushed a routine forehand wide, with Nadal eventually coming through 3-6, 7-6 (7/3,) 7-6 (9/7), 6-2.
The World No 1 was a long way from his best form throughout and conceded the strapping on his blister is badly affecting his serve. “I feel that with the tape I can lose the racquet when I’m serving,” said Nadal. “That’s a terrible feeling for a serve.
“I served slower, I served bad. But I was able to win a match against a very difficult opponent, so that has much more value than when everything is great. And because of these victories, sometimes it happens that the next day you are able to play much better. I’m going to try to improve. If not, I’m not going to have the chance to be in the final.”
>> Rafael Nadal (1) bt Grigor Dimitrov (22) 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (9/7), 6-2
>> Roger Federer (6) bt Andy Murray (4) 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3
>> Dominika Cibulkova (20) bt Simona Halep (11) 6-3, 6-0
>> A Radwanska (5) bt Victoria Azarenka (2) 6-1, 5-7, 6-0