Australian Open 2014: Roger Federer slips to Swiss number two following semi-final defeat to Rafael Nadal

The Spaniard won despite a large blister causing him pain throughout and will now play the new Swiss number one Stanislas Wawrinka in Sunday's final

Rafael Nadal maintained his dominance over Roger Federer to set up an Australian Open final against Stanislas Wawrinka.

World number one Nadal proved too strong for his great rival, as he had on 22 of the previous 32 occasions they had played, and was a comfortable 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 6-3 winner.

Nadal's victory ended hopes of an all-Swiss final, and the Spaniard will be a huge favourite to defeat Wawrinka on Sunday given Federer's countryman has never won a set in any of their 12 matches.

Friday's result also ensured Wawrinka will overtake Federer in the rankings on Monday to become Swiss number one for the first time.

Nadal will play in his second Australian Open final, having beaten Federer to win the title in 2009.

Victory on Sunday would take him level on 14 grand slam titles with Pete Sampras, who will present the trophy and on Friday watched Nadal play Federer live for the first time.

Federer's 17 slams is the all-time men's record Nadal could then aim for.

Nadal said of facing Federer: "We've played a lot of times for important things in our career. He's a great champion and it's an honour to be in the same era as him. I think I played my best match of the tournament so I'm very happy for that."

The stats were all in Nadal's favour, especially the one that showed Federer had not beaten the Spaniard at a grand slam since the Wimbledon final in 2007.

But there is always a special excitement around their matches, and there were reasons to think maybe this time it might be different.

World number one Nadal had been struggling with a blister on the palm of his left hand that affected his serve and was far from his best against Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals.

Federer pictured during his semi-final defeat to Nadal Federer pictured during his semi-final defeat to Nadal  

Federer, meanwhile, had looked back to something like top form in wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray.

Free from back pain, with a larger-headed racquet and boyhood idol Stefan Edberg as coach in his corner, Federer was dreaming of an all-Swiss final.

The first set was extremely tight, both men aware how important early momentum could be.

Nadal was the one pushing, but Federer came up with solid play when he needed it, saving two break points in the seventh game and another in the ninth.

The Swiss, surely influenced by Edberg, had come to the net incredibly often against Murray, and he was sticking to the tactic despite Nadal's extraordinary ability to hit passing shots.

If he was to have any chance, the tie-break appeared a must-win for Federer, but he made errors at crucial moments to trail 5-1, and although he won the next three points, he could not fully recover.

As he has on so many occasions, Nadal was trapping Federer in his backhand corner with vicious top-spin that the 32-year-old has always seemed powerless to counter.

Federer betrayed his frustration by complaining to umpire Jake Garner about Nadal's grunting, which received short shrift.

 

Nadal had no visible strapping on his blister but he took a medical time-out after the first game of the second set to have it treated.

Federer continued to resist the onslaught by saving three more break points in the fourth game, but two games later he dropped the ball too short and saw a forehand go whizzing past him as Nadal finally took his eighth chance.

There was a half-opening for Federer at 0-30 when Nadal served for the set but the Spaniard played four excellent points, including a sublime forehand down the line.

The only time Nadal had ever lost a match from two sets up came in their second meeting in Miami in 2005, when Nadal was 18 years old.

There seemed virtually no chance of a repeat, and even less so when a disgruntled Federer netted a volley to drop serve early in the third set.

Federer was given a lifeline when Nadal promptly dropped serve himself - the first time he had offered up break points in the match - but he moved ahead again for 4-3.

And two games later Nadal clinched victory on his second match point when a desperate Federer forehand flew long.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible