World No. 2 Rafael Nadal reached the Australian Open final for the second time on Thursday night in Melbourne as he defeated long-time rival Roger Federer 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-4, according to atpworldtour.com.
It was only the seventh time in their 27 meetings that the player who did not win the first set went on to clinch the match, and saw Nadal extend his FedEx ATP Head2Head lead over Federer to 18-9.
The 25-year-old Nadal is through to his fourth successive major final, and 15th overall, and is bidding for his 11th Grand Slam championship. He won the Australian Open trophy in 2009, defeating Federer in the final. His last major title came at 2011 Roland Garros, where he triumphed for a record-equalling sixth time with victory over Federer. He then followed with runner-up showings at Wimbledon and the US Open, falling to Novak Djokovic on both occasions. In the final, Nadal will face either World No. 1 and defending champion Djokovic, or two-time runner-up Andy Murray. The second semi-final will be decided on Friday night on Rod Laver Arena.
Sharapova beats Kvitova to reach final
Fourth seed Maria Sharapova overcame a second set rally by second seed Petra Kvitova to advance to her third Australian Open final with a 6-2 3-6 6-4 victory on Thursday.
The world number four had to save break points having been taken to deuce four times before eventually holding serve at 4-3 in the third set against second seed Kvitova. That game proved the pivotal one in a 6-2 3-6 6-4 victory over the Czech that swept Sharapova into her third final at Melbourne Park against Victoria Azarenka. “You know, she had so many opportunities in that third set, and I just hung on,” the 24-year-old said. “There were so many games where it was 15-40, love-30 on my serve, and actually on those points … I hit some really good second serves. I think she wanted to step in and maybe go for it, and I was smart about that.”
Sharapova will now meet third seed Victoria Azarenka in the final on Saturday after the Belarusian earlier beat 2011 champion Kim Clijsters 6-4 1-6 6-3.
Tecau/Sands defeated by Bryan brothers
Romania’s Horia Tecau and America’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands qualified for the semifinals of the mixed doubles event at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, after they defeated Australia’s Jarmila Gajdosova and Brazil’s Bruno Soares, 4-6, 6-1, 13-11. Also on Thursday, Horia Tecau and Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt lost to Mike and Bob Bryan in the men’s doubles event, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5).