Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Roger Federer of Switzerland during their men's singles semi-final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 26, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
Rafael Nadal reached his fourth consecutive Grand Slam final after overcoming old foe Roger Federer 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 in Melbourne on Thursday at the Australian Open.
Federer versus Nadal remains one of the sport's great rivalries and this was the newest classic. Nadal extended his winning record against Federer to 18-9 and powered into his 15th Grand Slam final.
This was the first time the duo played against each other before the finals since 2005 as they were on the same side of the draw.
Federer produced some brilliant tennis at the start of the match but his game unravelled when put under pressure by Nadal.
"We have had good matches over the years. I enjoy playing him. We have a lot of respect for each other." said Federer. "I hope it inspires future generations or other players. I always think he plays a bit better against me than against other players."
The players have met 10 times in Grand Slam events, eight in finals, and Federer only won two, both at Wimbledon.
"For me this is a dream to be back in the finals of the Australian Open," Nadal said. "It was a very tough match."
"It's a real honor to play against Roger, it was a fantastic match. It's fantastic to have one player in front of you who doesn't make mistakes, having a totally complete game."
The Spaniard will play either defending champion Novak Djokovic or fourth seed Andy Murray for the 11th Grand Slam title.
Russian Maria Sharapova set a women's singles final against third seed Victoria Azarenka on Saturday after beating Petra Kvitova 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.
Belarussian Azarenka edged out defending champion Kim Clijsters 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in an early semifinal.
Fourth seed Sharapova not only booked a final berth, but also earned herself an opportunity to regain the world No.1 ranking. She can take the No.1 ranking if she beats Azarenka in Saturday's final.
Danish Caroline Wozniacki, who has held the top ranking for most of the previous 15 months, lost in quarterfinals and will drop when the new ranking are released by WTA next Monday.
"The victory meas so much to be back in a Grand Slam final, a stage I have been to before few years ago here. It's nice to get that far again after losing quite early in the last couple of years." said Sharapova. "To get back at the stage is special."
"I feel happy and excited that I still have a chance to play the sport and play it at this level and be in a Grand Slam final.
"For me, it's more about the Grand Slam win than the No.1 ranking," said Sharapova. "That's just always been the goal for me."
In the other semifinal, Azarenka beat Clijsters to reach her first Grand Slam final after surviving a second set fight by the Belgian.
"Aussie Kim", who claimed the title a year before by beating Chinese top player Li Na, enjoyed more enthusiastic crowds support than Azarenka, but she could not catch up the movement of the 22-year-old Belarussian on court and conceded the match in two hours and 12 minutes. The score is 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
World No.1 twin Bryans, Bob and Mike, will play against Leander Paes/Radek Stepanek in the men's doubles final after beating seventh-seeded pair of Swedish Robert Lindstedt and Romanian Horia Tecau 4-6, 6-3, 7-6.
The 33-year-old Bryans have won 11 Grand Slam doubles titles, including the last three Australian Open crowns. They have won five of the last six Australian titles and are also the reigning Wimbledon champions.
Roger Federer of Switzerland wipes his face during his men's singles semi-final match against Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 26, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]