Rafael Nadal once again proved Roger Federer's grand slam nemesis on Thursday, withstanding a withering opening from the Swiss great to reach the final of the Australian Open.
The Spaniard won 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to prolong the agony for his greatest rival, who has now lost eight times to the Spaniard in 10 grand slam meetings and has not beaten him in the majors since Wimbledon 2007.
The Swiss 16-time grand slam winner was left a weeping wreck when Nadal remorselessly ground him down in 2009's nail-biting five-set final in Melbourne but failed in his bid for revenge under the lights on Rod Laver Arena.
"For me it's a dream to be back in the final," said a smiling Nadal. "It's a real honour 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."Nadal, who has won 10 grand slams, now goes on to meet either defending champion Novak Djokovic or Britain's Andy Murray in Sunday's final.
Federer produced flawless tennis at the start of the match but his game unravelled when put under pressure by Nadal and he finished with 63 unforced errors.
Cracker of a time
This was celebration that everyone in Australia except Federer enjoyed. It was a crucial time in the second set when the match was suspended for 10 minutes for Australia Day fireworks with Nadal leading 5-2.
But when play resumed Federer badly lost his focus, losing 11 consecutive points on top of straight three points he lost before the break.
In the fourth set, Federer overcame five match points in the tie break but but fell to another unforced error.