Nadal brings Federer crashing back to earth

Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:33am EST
 
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Hard reality crushed a fairytale revival at Melbourne Park as a ruthless Rafa Nadal inflicted more grand slam agony on Roger Federer with a straight-sets rout on Friday that booked his third Australian Open final.

New coach, new racket and a new broom for Federer amounted to little against the irrepressible Spaniard, who simply dominated to win 7-6(4) 6-3 6-3 on a breezy night at Rod Laver Arena.

Not since the 2007 Wimbledon final has Nadal rolled over to his great rival Federer, and his sixth straight win in grand slams over the Swiss was among his most devastating.

Brushing off a crater-like blister on his racket hand, Nadal roared through in just in two hours and 24 minutes and conceded only two break points as he set up the title-decider against Federer's compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka.

"I played well tonight. I played probably my best match of the tournament," Nadal told reporters after reaching his 19th grand slam final, equal second all-time with Ivan Lendl behind Federer.

"So very, very, very happy for this great news that I played my best match in that semi-final against Roger.

"I hit a few passing shots today that if ... you are not quick and playing with confidence, you cannot hit those shots."

Injury and illness have blighted Nadal's recent campaigns Down Under, but the rollicking victory put the Spaniard in the box seat for a long-awaited second title after his 2009 triumph at Melbourne Park.   Continued...

 
Roger Federer (L) of Switzerland poses for a photo with Rafael Nadal of Spain before their men's singles semi-final match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 24, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed