(January 27, 2017) Rafael Nadal defeated 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 in four hours and 56 minutes to reach his fourth Australian Open final and 21st major final of his career. The ninth-seeded Spaniard will face Roger Federer for the title on Sunday. Nadal will be seeking his second title in Melbourne. He owns a 23-11 career record against Federer and is 6-2 against Federer in major finals. Should Nadal win the final he will join an exclusive club of players winning all four majors at least twice. Only Rod Laver and Roy Emerson have done this.
“Is special play with Roger again in a final of a Grand Slam,” said the 30-year-old Nadal of his 35-year-old rival. “I cannot lie. Is great. Is exciting for me and for both of us that we still there and we still fighting for important events. So that’s important for us, I think. That’s very special.
“After that, you know, is a final. Is a very important match for both of us. I hope to be ready to compete well again. I need to go back to the hotel, to rest well, and to recover from now.”
In the first set the 14-time major winner broke the Bulgarian’s serve in the fourth game to get control of the set. Nadal hit eight winners to only two unforced errors, winning 91 percent of his points on his first serves in the set.
The second set saw Dimitrov break Nadal in the fourth game, with a chance to serve out the set at 5-3. Nadal broke back and staved off four set points against him in the 10th game. The No. 15th seed held and broke Nadal in the 12th game to capture the set 7-5.
Dimitrov broke Nadal’s serve three times in the set, hitting 14 winners to 14 unforced errors.
Nadal went ahead by capturing the third set as both men exchanged breaks in the fifth and sixth games. There was a delay before the eleventh game of the match due to a medical emergency with a spectator. Nadal won the tiebreak 7-5. The Spaniard was a perfect 6 for 6 on points won at the net
Both men stayed even in the fourth set, with no breaks of serve. In the tiebreak, Dimitrov took a 5-2 lead and never looked back, capturing the tiebreak 7-4.
In the opening game of the fifth set Dimitrov fought off three break points to hold serve. Nadal saved a break point in the second game, but held for 1-1. Dimitrov saved a break point in the fifth game to hold for 3-2.
In the eighth game, with Nadal serving at 3-4, the 2009 champion battled back from 15-40 to hold for 4-4.
At 4-4 double fault put Dimitrov in the hole at 0-30. He won the next two points for 30-30, but Nadal broke him at 30 to serve for a place in the final.
Nadal won the match on his third match point.
“I think Grigor played great,” Nadal said in his news conference. “I played great. So was a great quality of tennis tonight. So just for me, is amazing to be through to a final of Grand Slam again here in Australia at the first of the year. Means a lot to me. I feel the love of the people here. They give me a lot of positive energy.
“Just I think I feel very happy to be part of this match, no? Arrive moment in the fifth set that for sure I wanted to win. I say to myself, I am giving my best, I am playing very well. If I lose, that’s it. Grigor deserves, too.
“I think both of us deserve to be in that final. Was a great fight. Finally was me. I feel lucky. I am very happy for that.”
More to follow……
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 2017