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Nadal v Federer semi-final preview

By Chris Pike
24 January 2014 02:38PM EST

THE first men's Australian Open semi-final featured two men without a Grand Slam title but now Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer prepare for Friday night's battle with 30 between them.

Thursday night saw the first men's finalist determined at the 2014 Australian Open with Stanislas Wawrinka beating Tomas Berdych qualifying for his first Grand Slam final in a match that went four sets, and included three tie-breakers with one break of serve the whole night.

Now the opponent for Wawrinka awaits and another chapter will be written into the legendary rivalry between two of the all-time greatest tennis players – Spaniard world No. 1 Nadal and world record 17-time Grand Slam winner from Switzerland Federer.

The match will be the 33rd meeting all-time between Nadal and Federer with it also being their 10th head-to-head battle at a Grand Slam and the third at the Australian Open.

Despite the fact that Federer has amassed 17 Grand Slam titles and 77 ATP Tour championships overall, it is somewhat of a surprise that Nadal has dominated their head-to-head match-ups winning 22 of the 32 meetings with Federer only managing 10 victories.

Nadal won all four of their match-ups in 2013 and all came in straight-sets but none were in a Grand Slam.

Federer's last win over Nadal came in the semi finals of the Indian Wells event in 2012.

Meanwhile their last match-up in a Grand Slam and indeed at an Australian Open came in the semi-final in 2012 with Nadal prevailing in four sets in a match that included two tie-breaks.

In fact, Nadal has won the last five Grand Slam meetings he has had with Federer.

That run started after Federer won the 2007 Wimbledon final in straight sets with Nadal since winning the French Open final in 2008, the Wimbledon final of 2008 where he won 9-7 in the fifth set, the final of the 2009 Australian Open again in five sets, the 2011 French Open final and then that Australian Open semi-final two years ago.

Both Nadal and Federer are in the discussion as being among the best handful of male tennis players the world has ever seen and a strong case can be made to consider either the very best.

Federer holds the all-time Grand Slam record with 17 major titles to go with his 77 overall on the tour while winning a remarkable $79 million in prizemoney not even taking into account sponsorships and endorsements.

Nadal has also won 13 Grand Slam titles already and at just 27 years of age and as the world No. 1 there is every reason to suggest there is plenty more for him to add to his collection.

The Spaniard has also won 61 titles overall in his career for prizemoney of over $64 million.

Despite a tough 2013, Federer has been in scintillating form at this year's Australian Open beating James Duckworth, Blaz Kavcic, Teymuraz Gabashvili and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga all in commanding straight-sets before then beating Andy Murray in the quarter finals in four sets.

Federer is just happy to be playing near his very best tennis again and to be back in the semi finals in Melbourne where he has been so used to getting to.

"For me it's an amazing result for me again to be in the semis. This one feels different because of the tougher times I've had in slams, Wimbledon, at the US Open," Federer said.

"It's nice to be back in the semis and defend my points from last year. Not that it matters at my age. For me, it's as well a dream run, and I hope I can keep it up against Rafa."

The 32-year-old is fully aware that Nadal has had the wood over him in recent years as well.

"He's been tough to play against, no doubt. I'm happy I get a chance to play him in a slam again. I don't remember the last time we played," Federer said.

"The head to head record is in his favour. I'm looking forward to speaking to Stefan, because when we spoke together, you know, when he came to Dubai and we spoke about the game, we clearly spoke about playing Rafa, as well. "

Meanwhile, Nadal has come into 2014 back as the world No. 1 and has won through to the semi finals by beating Bernard Tomic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Gael Monfils, Kei Nishikori and Grigor Dimitrov.

Like Federer, Nadal didn’t lose a set until losing the opening set in the quarter-final against 22-year-old Bulgarian Dimitrov.

However, a bad blister on his hand hampered him in the semi-final win over Dimitrov and he will be hoping it doesn’t affect his play in the clash with Federer.

Nadal is just hoping to play through the pain and that the blister on his left-hand won't be a deciding factor in the match.

"With the forehand is not a big issue. With the serve, little bit. I feel that with the tape I can the racquet when I serving. That's my feeling, no? The racquet can go. That's a terrible feeling for a serve, because then when you have this feeling you are not able to accelerate at the right moment," Nadal said.

"You lose a little bit the coordination. Yeah, that's a big deal. But right, I served slower. I served bad. I was able to win a match against a very difficult opponent, so that has much more value than when everything is great."

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