Rafael Nadal in Australian Open Final After Defeating Roger Federer

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Nadal Winning

On Thursday, Jan. 26, at Melbourne Park, Rafael Nadal defeated long-time rival Roger Federer to claim his place in the Australian Open final. After losing the first set in a tie break, Nadal stormed back to take three straight sets and win the most exciting matchup in the men's draw.

The Semifinal Match
In the 27th meeting  of the two rivals, Nadal brought his winning streak against Federer to 18 victories. The hard-hitting battle went to a tie break twice before Nadal was able to celebrate, winning 6-7, (5-7), 6-2, 7-6, (7-5), 6-4. Federer, who is seeded third behind Novak Djokovic (1) and Nadal (2), held Nadal off at match point in the ninth game of the last set, but then Nadal served for the win, ending Federer's hopes for a 17th Grand Slam title.

Nadal, who had injured his knee before the tournament began, told the BBC he had "bad expectations 24 hours before the match." That was evident at the start, when Federer took command and quickly went up 3-0 before Nadal pulled it together and came back to force the tie break. After a convincing win in the second set, Nadal lost serve in the third. Federer, who was also broken in the third, saved five set points before losing the third set.

The Australian Open Final
Nadal will face the winner of the Djokovic/Andy Murray semi-final. Murray, who is seeded fourth, will play the number one seed on Friday. Nadal, who said that being in the final "is a dream for me," brings some impressive stats to the Australian Open final: he successfully landed 77 percent of his first serves, and converted 69 percent of those to points. He also took advantage of six out of 16 break points. Although Federer was obviously disappointed, he noted that he hasn't lost in several months, so "don't feel too sorry for me."

Photo:  Associated Press

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