Vamos! Rafael Nadal Wins Thriller Over Grigor Dimitrov In Australian Open SFs
by Sean Randall | January 27th, 2017, 6:51 pm

Rafael Nadal keeps proving me wrong. A week ago he looked dead and buried after barely scraping past Alexander Zverev in the third round at the Australian Open.

I still think had Zverev not succumbed to cramps, he would have finished off Rafa. But he couldn’t, and nor could Gael Monfils or Milos Raonic. And that brought us to last night.

Nadal won the match, that wasn’t much of a surprise. But it was incredible the way he did it.

I said going in, Rafa would need to serve well and hit the forehand with power and with depth, and he did both. But Dimitrov was also on his game. And it turned out to be a hell of a tennis match, won by Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 in just under five pulsating hours.

Dimitrov’s backhand held up firm against the constant barrage from Rafa, who was playing the same game he would against Roger Federer (why not!). And early on Rafa was getting the better of the exchange grabbing an early break and riding out the set with the help of some great serving.

In the second set, Dimitrov started to get teeth into the match. He went up a break twice but only to give them back. Dimitrov was now hitting winners off the backhand and flying around the court with reckless abandon. These were long, physical points at times and had Nadal taken the second, it would have finished in three. But Dimitrov proved resilient, earning a final break to take the set and the crowd erupted, Dimitrov erupted. We had a match. Did we ever.

It was 1-all heading to the third, a best-of-3 situation. Almost two hours in. Both guys in full flight. But Nadal’s early break put a damper on the Dimitrov camp. Would that seal it? No. Dimitrov fought right back, leveled and then two served their way to a tiebreak where it was Nadal the stronger player again.

To the fourth we went, and would we have another collapse from Grigor like in the 2014 quarterfinal? Nope. This time he kept chugging, now going past the three hour mark. Still ripping backhands, forehands and aces, getting closer to Nadal when the points went longer. Grigor seemed to be getting better! Nadal maybe was wearing down. With the two on even footing, to a breaker we went and this time Grigor jumped ahead early and forced the decider.

Almost four hours in and with no potty breaks, no trainer visits, no shenanigans, the decider began with Grigor serving first. Nadal got an early look at break chances but couldn’t convert. Playing from behind, the Nadal’s serve was under constant pressure, but Rafa did well, very well, fighting through it. Things were getting tense – this was no Karlovic/Isner serving fest, this was going to end soon – and sure enough Dimitrov had the match in sight. Serving 3-4, 15-40 and teetering, Rafa came up with the championship goods. He then broke to the crowds’ approval and finally on his third match point he was down on the court in celebration.

The old Rafa was back.

What a match! First, as I said Rafa played great. Served great, forehand was strong, though he missed a few easy ones, and his backhand was terrific. And I loved his net play, especially down those break points late in the fifth. That was clutch, that was gutsy and that showed Dimitrov what championship tennis is.

“It was a fantastic match. Very emotional,” said Nadal. “I think Grigor played great. I played great. So was a great quality of tennis tonight. For me, it is amazing to be through to a final of a Grand Slam again here in Australia at the start of the year. Means a lot to me. I feel the love of the people here. They give me a lot of positive energy.

“I feel very happy to be part of this match. There was a moment in the fifth set that for sure I wanted to win. I said to myself, ‘I am giving my best, I am playing very well. If I lose, that’s it. Grigor deserves it, too.’ I think both of us deserved to be in that final. It was a great fight. Finally was me. I feel lucky. I am very happy for that.”

As for Dimitrov, he showed when he’s got his head on right, he can compete with the best. Can coach Vallverdu get him to that next level? We’ll see. The game is there, we know that. It’s just mentally can he win it.

“It’s never easy to lose a match like that. I’m happy, though, with a lot of things. I’m going to stay positive and keep my head up high,” said Dimitrov. “Rafa deserves all the credit right now since he’s such a fighter, such a competitor. It was an honor for me to play a match like that against him. It also shows me that I’m on the right path.”

So Rafa is healthy again. Knees are good. The wrist is not an issue and even though he played for five hours, he gets a day off before the showdown Sunday against one Roger Federer. And like that, he’s back! Vamos!

You Might Like:
Vamos Rafael
Andy Murray And Grigor Dimitrov Shared An Ice Bath After Their Wins Today
Grigor Dimitrov Wins Third Straight Challenger, Win Streak at 15
Watch Grigor Dimitrov Absolutely Destroy His Racquet [Video]
Let’s Watch Andy Murray Try To Style Grigor Dimitrov’s Hair [Video]

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

25 Comments for Vamos! Rafael Nadal Wins Thriller Over Grigor Dimitrov In Australian Open SFs

Humble Rafa Says:

For the folks who are in this forum…

It’s been a while. Talk your doctor. Get your heart medication before your match. Order an ambulance in advance. Get some sleep.

This match may feature break points especially on the ad court, and of course I will win 95% of them.

rognadfan Says:

Anything less, and you are dead!

Michael Says:

Rafa has got the better of Roger on three other occasions in the same tournament. But what Roger should be hoping helping his cause this time around is the speed of the court which is distinct from the earlier ones and plays really fast. This must favour Roger in my opinion. But the problem is Roger loses the match against Rafa even before he enters the court as he suffers from a big mental block. It is more psychological than physical.

Take the 2011 French open, Roger was on the verge of securing two break of serves in the opening set and he mentioned makes a drop set in his eagerness to finish the point in the midst of a rally and it is a shot he would make it 9 out of 10 times and yet in that crucial match, it missed by a whisker. Had he won the first set, how would have things turned especially when he was able to secure the third set overcoming the disappointment of losing the first two sets is not hard to predict. The match would definitely have become another marathon.

Michael Says:

Sorry in the second para, it should read as “he makes a drop shot in his eagerness …..

skeezer Says:

For folks who have to post in the third person to feel relevant;
Talk to your Dr, take the meds. Get some sleep.

Margot Says:

Au contraire HR.
The bad news was Andy losing, of course. But it also means I can watch this final with absolutely no stress. Anyone want to borrow my trusty sofa? AM………..;)

AndyMira Says:

@M…You still want to lend us[me,okie and willow] your beloved sofa?Then clarrisa’d straight away my lady!there’s no time to waste!!

Willow Says:

Michael the thing is would haves, could haves, should haves, if and buts mean squat in the world of sport, breaks of serve are no guarantee in the end of the eventual out come ….

Margot Says:

The sacrifices I make, AM ;) On its way. You gotta stop OK attacking with her killer heels tho….EEEEEKKKK!

AndyMira Says:

Oh M,you’re an angel[MY ANGEL,he he]…Oh don’t worry about Okie,her kick not as vicious as it used to anymore due to a lack of practice,throw temper tantrum everywhere,sulking when things not go her way,and the result….her kick lack of depth,lack of penetration,less hurt..why,she kicked me once and it’s only gave me an itch on my b@#$ for a couple of minutes!

madmax Says:


What is interesting is the current odds favour Nadal – here’s the narrative – but who would even have thought this final was ever going to happen?

Willow – don’t change to please others.

Start time: 0800 GMT
TV Coverage: Eurosport 1
Sky Bet odds: Roger Federer (17) (11/10) v Rafael Nadal (9) (8/11)
Our Prediction: Nadal to win in four sets – 7/2 with Sky Bet

Federer v Nadal: Betting preview

Rafael Nadal will start as the marginal favourite for Sunday’s Australian Open final with Roger Federer as tennis’ greatest rivalry is renewed.

The Spaniard is 8/11 with Sky Bet to maintain his head-to-head stranglehold, having won their last six Grand Slam meetings, with Federer’s last joy in a five-set format coming almost a decade ago at Wimbledon.

Federer did, however, win their last meeting in Basel in 2015, although that was indoors and ended a five-match losing run at the hands of his great nemesis.

That rare win reduced the 17-time Grand Slam winner’s deficit to 11-23 in their head-to-head, but he remains 2-8 in the outdoor hard-court environment in question.

Their last major meeting was at this venue in 2014 when Nadal prevailed in straight sets on the Rod Laver Arena, a 100/30 chance this time round.

Three of their last seven meetings have gone the distance and another five-set epic is just 15/8, with Nadal triumphing in the last two, which is 5/1.

The same price is available for Federer to beat Nadal in straight-sets at a major for the first time, but it would take the most optimistic of followers of the Swiss star to expect him to have it all his own way on Sunday.

Nadal may have a day less to recover but when injury free his fitness is unquestionable, making it a mammoth task for Federer to claim an unprecedented 18th major title at 35.

Willow Says:

Madmax dont change to please others !, eh you must be joking, you havent posted for a while, you should look back at some of the old posts and the vitriolic posts ive had in my direction, i very much doubt ill be on some fans Christmas card lists lol ….

madmax Says:

Willow, I haven’t posted because although I have been watching the tour with Novak, more closely, whilst Roger has been off tour – it has not felt the same.

Not going to listen to the haters here who come on and bad mouth (mostly Federer), after what he has done for our sport. It is they who are a disgrace – but you won’t change them, so shouldn’t try to.

Stand your ground. You are very sweet.

Willow Says:

Madmax for me the players are fair game, there to be liked, there to be disliked, whatever i dont care, its part of been a fan, you take the rough with the smooth, then posters take things to a personal level and attack each other, i believe in been fair, but i will defend myself when i feel its justified, but also ignore when i feel its not worth wasting my time or nervous energy on ….

pops Says:

to serve, to honour, to respect. Thank you for your sacrifice for the tennis world. “All give some. Some give all.”

Willow Says:

Pops like that saying ;-) ….

J-Kath Says:

Views of “Legends”

If anyone interested: Davis Cup – Canada vs. UK: Milos withdrawn and Andy Murray withdrawn.

Willow Says:

Thanks J-Kath ;-)) ….

AndyMira Says:

Thanks JK for the article..xoxo!

J.S. Says:

Milos and Murray out, do you know why? I am assuming Milos is due to injury…..BUT ANDY??

Margot Says:

JS: Andy needs some R and R and we have some good players who need the chance to step up and take it. Apparently Leon told him to get some rest. A long, long season awaits.
Am v. v. glad myself re Andy.

Willow Says:

Margot lol, for you ….

J-Kath Says:

Ditto Margot re. Andy.
AM + Wllow – UR welcome – hope it was enlightening.

AndyMira Says:


Top story: Zverev Ends Djokovic's Golden Slam Hopes In Tokyo Olympic Stunner, Will Meet Khachanov For Gold