Grand slam legends are urging Roger Federer to take the fight to Rafael Nadal as the ageless champion bids to pull off possibly the greatest single feat in tennis history on Sunday night. The 35-year-old Serena Williams will next meet the No. 79-ranked, 34-year-oldMirjana Lucic-Baroni, who beat Karolina Pliskova in three sets earlier on Rod Laver Arena to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in almost 18 years.
6-4 win over Grigor Dimitrov in a grueling, 4-hour, 56-minute semifinal match sets up a championship weekend at the Australian Open like no other, with every singles finalist in their 30s. At Wimbledon, after losing in the 2008 final, Serena had to wait a year to take out her her big sister, 7-6 (3), 6-2 to win her third Venus Rosewater Dish.
2006 Monte-Carlo Masters, clay-outdoor, F, Nadal, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (5).
It will be Nadal's fourth final appearance at Melbourne Park, lifting the trophy in 2009 when he beat Federer in a five-set finale and finishing runner-up in 2012 and 2014. He enters off of a five-set thriller against Stan Wawrinka, a match in which he raced to a two-set lead, squandered it, then recovered to win the fifth.
Nadal broke Federer's serve in the first game and from there he didn't look back with the Swiss hitting too many unforced errors and failing to take his opportunities.
In these eight matches, starting with the 2012 Australian Open semi-final, Federer has created only 35 break opportunities while Nadal has had nearly twice as many at 67.
Federer, despite winning four titles in Australia, hasn't beaten Nadal on Rod Laver Arena.
Last October, as both men have recalled this week, Federer travelled to Mallorca for the opening of his friend's new tennis academy.
Now that they have defied all odds to get to this Australian Open final, they will want to put on a match to remember and talk about over and over and over again. I feel very happy, I enjoyed it a lot. "I think the player who play better is going to be the victor".
"That's what I'm going to try", the 14-times grand slam champion said. I think that was the effect that the French Open loss left on me. Their contrasting styles of play and personalities make their battles a riveting experience for tennis lovers.
This year was all about Serena, all the way, beating Venus 6-4, 6-3 in the US Open final for her second Slam of the year.
"Rosewall wrote me a letter this week to wish me well again", said Federer.
Fate seemed to turn against Nadal in the final set, as Dimitrov held serve by using a no-look over-the-head cross-court shot (after losing his footing near the net) to set up a baseline victor that Nadal couldn't reach. Nadal re-took the lead in characteristic style, grinding down his opponent just by staying in the rally until a exhausted shot from Dimitrov found the net.
At 35 and contesting his first official tournament after taking six months out of the game to rehabilitate his surgically repaired knee, Federer is attempting to snare an elusive 18th major - four-and-a-half years after landing his 17th.