Australian Open 2014: Rafael Nadal battles to four-set victory over Grigor Dimitrov to reach the semi-finals

But defending women's champion Victoria Azarenka is out

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The Independent Online

Rafael Nadal is through to the last four of the Australian Open but the world No 1 diced with danger before winning his quarter-final against Grigor Dimitrov here today. Nadal won 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-2 after saving three set points to prevent his Bulgarian opponent taking a two-sets-to-one lead.

Nadal, who had to deal with blisters on his left hand which caused him constant discomfort, admitted afterwards that he had “got lucky” against an opponent who is regarded as one of the game’s outstanding prospects. “Baby Fed”, who owes his nickname to his Roger Federer-like style, played superbly in his first Grand Slam quarter-final and came close to pulling off a major surprise.

The latter stages of the third set were the turning point. Dimitrov failed to take a set point when Nadal served at 5-6 as he framed a return of serve. He had two more in the tie-break. On the first he hit a forehand beyond the baseline and on the second Nadal hit a winning volley. Two points later the Spaniard took the set.

A thumping backhand winner down the line gave Nadal an early break in the fourth set and he went on to complete his victory with another break of serve when Dimitrov missed a forehand.

Nadal, who will now play the winner of today’s later quarter-final between Federer and Andy Murray, said afterwards that Dimitrov “has everything to become a great champion”. He added: “There are a lot of similarities with Roger [Federer], his style. If he is able to keep playing this way, with normal progression he will be very tough.”

 

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