The rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal resumes tonight Down Under in the Australian Open semifinals. The Spaniard has dominated Federer winning 22 of their 32 career meetings including 8 of 10 at the Grand Slam level.
Federer however has high hopes to break a recent 4-match losing streak to Rafa. After vintage victories over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray, the 32-year-old is playing better than ever with his new larger racquet and playing without any back discomfort. And with new coach Stefan Edberg by his side he’s taken a more aggressive approach at the tournament.
Rafael Nadal now stands just six sets from an Open Era first, a second career Slam, but a recent bout of blisters has hampered his ability to serve. The World No. 1 is still undefeated on the season and riding an 12 match Grand Slam win streak.
Awaiting the winner in the Sunday final is first time Grand Slam finalist Stanislas Wawrinka.
The match begins at 7:30pm local time in Melbourne.
NO. 1 RAFAEL NADAL (ESP) v NO. 6 ROGER FEDERER (SUI)
Head-to-head: Nadal leads 22-10
Since Federer won his first Grand Slam at 2003 Wimbledon, either Federer or Nadal have won at least one Slam title every year.
Federer and Nadal are the only 2 Grand Slam champions left in the men’s main draw from the 6 to start. They have won 30 of the last 42 Grand Slams. Only 6 other men have won Grand Slam titles in that period – Andy Roddick, Gaston Gaudio, Marat Safin, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Murray.
This is the pair’s first Grand Slam meeting since they met at the same stage here in 2012. Federer has not defeated Nadal at a major since 2007 Wimbledon and has never defeated the Spaniard at a hard court Grand Slam.
Nadal is one of just 2 active players who have had more than one career meeting with Federer to hold a winning head-to-head, the other is Murray (11-10).
This is the second Grand Slam semifinal between 2 men who have achieved the career Grand Slam, after Federer and Nadal contested the first in the 2012 semifinals here. It is just the 5th time in history that 2 men have met at a major having achieved the career Grand Slam. Roy Emerson and Rod Laver met at majors twice after achieving the career Grand Slam and Federer and Nadal met at 2011 Roland Garros and the 2012 Australian Open having both won the title at all 4 majors.
Top seed and 2009 Australian Open champion NADAL is bidding to reach the final here for the 3rd time. He is playing at the Australian Open for the first time since 2012. He missed the event last year with a knee injury.
Nadal is bidding to reach his 19th Grand Slam final. He is currently in joint-3rd place with Pete Sampras on the all-time list of most appearances in Grand Slam finals.
Nadal is bidding to win his 2nd Australian Open title and become the first man in the Open Era – and only the 3rd man in history – to win each of the 4 Grand Slam titles twice. Roy Emerson and Rod Laver are the only players to have won each Grand Slam on 2 or more occasions.
Nadal is looking to win his 14th Grand Slam title and equal Pete Sampras on the list of all-time Grand Slam title holders. He is currently 3rd on the list behind today’s opponent (17) and Sampras (14).
Four-time Australian Open champion FEDERER is bidding to set an Open Era record for the most Australian Open final appearances. He is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to reach 6 finals at Melbourne Park.
Federer is bidding to reach his 25th Grand Slam final, and extend the all-time record that he took sole ownership of at 2009 Wimbledon. Federer has a 24-9 record in Grand Slam semifinals.
Federer is bidding to become the 4th different man in the Open Era to reach the Australian Open final aged 32 or over. At 32 years 171 days, he would become the 5th oldest Australian Open finalist overall.
This is Federer’s 11th consecutive Australian Open semifinal, an Open Era record. By reaching the last 4 here this year, he has extended his record for the most consecutive semifinal appearances at the Australian Open ahead of Ivan Lendl (6) and Stefan Edberg (5). He also holds the Open Era record for the most consecutive semifinal appearances at Wimbledon (7) and Roland Garros (5).
ATP STATS BREAKDOWN
• “70-70 Club” on serve – 70% 1st serves in play – 77% 1st serve points won (winning almost 60% on 2nd serves as well) – saved 72% (18 of 25) break points faced
• Strong return game – 77% hit back in play – 34% won returning 1st serves – 58% won returning 2nd serves – 21 breaks of serve in 14 sets played
• Big forehand weapon – 74 forehand winners
• Dominant serving – 83% 1st serve points won – 61% 2nd serve points won – broken twice in 77 service games
• Very solid baseline play so far – great forehand (66 winners only 57 unforced errors), more aggressive backhand (32 backhand winners) and very aggressive and effective at net (won 135 of 178 net approaches)
• Has matched Nadal’s return of serve numbers through five rounds, breaking serve 30% of the time – his question mark is his ability to convert break chances – he’s converted just 33% (22 of 66)
FRIDAY AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCHEDULE
Rod Laver Arena 3:00 pm Start Time
1. Mixed Doubles – Semifinals
Sania Mirza (IND) vs. Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS)
Horia Tecau (ROU) Matthew Ebden (AUS)
Not Before: 4.00pm
2. Women’s Doubles – Final
Sara Errani (ITA) vs. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)
Roberta Vinci (ITA) Elena Vesnina (RUS)
Not Before: 7.30pm
3. Men’s Singles – Semifinals
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)
Rafael Nadal 1.61 v Roger Federer 2.25
WEATHERUNDERGROUND MELBOURNE FORECAST
Rain early…then remaining cloudy with showers and windy conditions developing for the afternoon. High 23C. Winds SW at 25 to 40 kmh. Rainfall around 6mm.
Tonight: Windy and partly cloudy this evening. Mostly cloudy with diminishing winds after midnight. Low 15C. Winds SSW at 15 to 30 kmh.
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE
ESPN has live coverage starting at 3:30am Friday morning. ESPN3.com will offer live streaming of Federer-Nadal.
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Roddick vs. Nadal Live
Australian Open Men’s Final Open Thread: Rafael Nadal v Stanislas Wawrinka