Nadal Books Date With Federer For Australian Open Title

The Australian Open showdown between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be their ninth meeting in a major final the most between any two players in the post-1968 Open era

Nadal Books Date With Federer For Australian Open Title

Rafael Nadal will square off with Roger Federer in the Australian Open final after the Spanish star defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4 on Friday.

Nadal, 30, reaches his first major final since the 2014 French Open after seeing off Dimitrov in an absorbing five sets, sealing a 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 at the Rod Laver Arena.

For Nadal, who downed Federer in the 2009 Aussie Open final, it will be his 21st Grand Slam final and the Swiss's 28th, with the Spaniard leading Federer 6-2 in their major final meetings. Federer has won two of three from Nadal at Wimbledon but is 0-8 everywhere else.

This is the first time since 1997 that the two Grand Slam finalists each had to weather two five-set matches in one tournament.

But Nadal said his past triumphs counted for little considering how much time had passed since they last competed in a final. In a match to remember for all tennis fans, Rafa dug deep and gave his all over the course of five hours to overcome an inspired Dimitrov.

The 1998 French Open victor Moya was undoubtedly invaluable in preparing for Raonic, but Nadal took his own counsel under the lights at Rod Laver Arena.

Williams was among those applauding as the 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni left the court after playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal since she made the final four at Wimbledon in 1999 at the age of 17.

The pivotal moments of the third-set tiebreaker proved the difference. But World No 15 Dimitrov fought back to take the second set 7-5.

The Williams sisters practiced at Melbourne Park on Friday, the day ahead of the women's final where Serena is aiming for an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam title. Williams, whose sister Venus plays Coco Vandeweghe in Thursday's other women's semi, said she could take inspiration from Lucic-Baroni. Though Nadal has beat Federer in 9 out of their 11 Grand Slam matchups, he has been sidelined in recent years because of injuries. An hour later, Serena ensured had there'd be a ninth all-Williams Grand Slam final - and first in Australia since 2003.

Lucic-Baroni was playing her first semifinal at a major since Wimbledon in 1999.

Nadal said he wasn't entirely confident he could beat Dimitrov when he was deep into the deciding set after midnight and had to fend off breakpoints in the eighth game.

"I don't think there's necessarily anything to exploit", Venus said. Still Dimitrov came at him, and grabbed four set points in the longest game of the match to that stage, but could not cash in. Nadal has a 6-2 record in the previous matches.

He revealed that he was in tears after he was forced to withdraw injured from last year's French Open, a tournament he has won nine times. The question was whether Nadal ever imagined they would meet a few months later in the Australian Open final.

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