Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are to meet on Thursday for only the second time at the Australian Open when the pair of tennis elites clash in the semifinals.
Nadal leads their series 17-9 with Federer claiming their last match at the year-end finals in London two months ago. The Swiss national has blazed through so far during the fortnight at Melbourne Park and would be playing in an Australian semifinal for the ninth consecutive year.
“For me, it’s another great match with Rafa,” Federer said. “I’m happy to play him because of our great epic match earlier in the finals here in 2009.” Nadal won that match in five sets.
The pair is making a rare appearance in the same half of a Grand Slam draw, their more usual placing being in separate halves as the number one and two seeds for more than half a decade.
“Maybe the last time we played the semis of a [Grand] Slam was the French in 2005,” Federer said. “It’s a nice change-up.” Federer, who competed in his 1,000 career match to reach the final four, could not help but be pleased with his devastating form so far: “I’ve never lost here I think in the first round or before the third round, so I’ve always played really well here.
“But you are worried it’s always going to happen for the first time, so I’m relieved I’m going to be in the semis to be honest.”
Nadal has had a rougher road than his rival, who has won all of his matches at this edition in straight sets and got a walkover in the second round. The Spaniard passed his latest test in the quarters, taking more than four hours and four sets to control Tomas Berdych and advance.
But the “King of Clay” has beaten Federer in six of their past eight Grand Slam finals, albeit with four of them played on Roland Garros clay.
“Every match is different, and I know I’ll be on court playing against probably the best of the history,” said Nadal. “Obviously my only chance to win is play aggressive, play very well, and to play to a limit. That’s what I’m gonna try.
“All the matches against him are special and will be special. Always playing in these kinds of surfaces, he’s the favourite. His level is fantastic. ... He’s doing very, very well.” Nadal has already said he plans to take February off to rest a problem shoulder and get ready for a busy Olympic year. He said he feels his secret weapon against Federer was mental.
“For me, the most important thing is to be calm,” he said. “The level of my game during the entire tournament was really satisfying. Even if I lose, I come back home with very positive feelings about how I played, and for sure the result is good.”
Keywords: Australian Open