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It’s them again!

Federer wins in 1000th ATP match, to meet old rival Nadal.

sports Updated: Jan 25, 2012 01:20 IST

Rafael Nadal is scowling again and it is possibly not the best news for Roger Federer. Their first semifinal in a slam for seven years on Thursday will be the most significant collision of this Australian Open to this point, and the Spaniard has rediscovered his tigerish championship game at just the right time.

The Swiss, who has been majestic all the way, never more so than in dismissing Juan Martín del Potro in the earlier quarter-final in the crushing afternoon heat, will probably start as favourite to reach the final.

But there will not be much in it. The last time they met here was in final of 2009, Rafa’s year of magic. "That is one of the finals that will always be in my mind," Nadal said after completing a draining 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 win over Tomas Berdych, a match Federer said earlier he planned to watch it on television in his hotel room, not something he always bothers to do. He would have been impressed.

The Swiss’s win — in his 1,000th Tour match — was too one-sided to enthral and it was unfortunate Del Potro could not find the game that so dazzled his peers in 2009, when, before a wrist injury cut him down, he was good enough to beat Federer in the final of the US Open as well as in the World Tour Finals. However, he eventually lost 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to the World No. 3.

Berdych falls apart

Apart from his mystery tendon-pinch injury while sitting on a chair in his hotel room last week (his right knee has been heavily strapped since), Nadal was in good shape. It was Berdych who did the early bullying and uncharacteristically indulged in an angry exchange with the chair umpire, Carlos Bernardez.

Berdych (not the calmest of players under pressure) grabbed a break point at the start of the second, but could not capitalise. The challenge jitters hit him and, Nadal did not win 10 slam titles by failing to smell apprehension. And that was what he sensed when he broke Berdych to go 3-2 up in the fourth. After playing some great points behind a big first serve, Berdych’s level dropped. “I try my best in every moment,” Nadal said. It is his mantra and now it has substance again.

The Guardian