Nadal survives Dimitrov in five hour epic to meet Federer in final

The iconic Spanish star came through a bruising five-set encounter with Grigor Dimitrov on Friday afternoon to secure a place in the last two, his first Grand Slam final since the French Open in 2014.

Now Federer is in the Australian Open final and could face Nadal for the Norman Brookes trophy if the Spaniard can beat Grigor Dimitrov this morning.

With his victory Dimitrov is projected to rise to 12 in next week's rankings unless Roger Federer wins the title in Melbourne.

The Spanish bull was made to fight tooth and nail but showed glimpses of his astonishing best, prevailing over Bulgarian 15th seed Dimitrov 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 in just short of five hours.

First proof that fortune favours the older came from Venus Williams, who has reached the semifinal of the Australian Open for the first time in 14 years.

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Before the tournament, one prominent bookmaker was offering odds of £5000-1 on Federer, Nadal, Serena and Venus reaching the finals.

It's the first time since Wimbledon in 2008 that the illustrious quartet have all landed in a grand slam final, and the first time in the Open Era all four grand slam singles finalists are at least 30. Fighting to save the opener, the Bulgarian nailed a fine backhand down the line but Nadal swiftly stamped out hope of a comeback as he served out for the set with a vicious volley inside 35 minutes. The two players meet past year in China, and Dimitrov defeated Nadal in straight games. A 21-shot rally ended when Dimitrov clipped the top of the net, allowing the 2009 champion to take a 6-5 lead, only to be hauled back yet again to force the third tie-break of the contest.

"I am not a very arrogant person so I always have doubts", Nadal said. According to most betting websites, Nadal is also the favourite to win the Australian Open 2017 on Sunday and clinch his career 15th Grand Slam.

Watching on in Nadal's box was his girlfriend Xisca Perello, who has never before joined him for his Australian Open campaign.

Federer looked like he would wrap up the match in straight sets and march into his 28th grand slam final - including six in Melbourne - when he was up two sets and with Wawrinka walking off the court nearly in tears to have his knee strapped.

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"I don't really know. I think the player who plays better is going to be the victor". At the same time it was an honour for me to play a match like that against him. This was the 30-year-old Nadal's second five-setter in the tournament after his quarterfinal clash against Alexander Zverev.

Federer last lifted a grand slam trophy at Wimbledon in 2012 while he hasn't won at Melbourne Park since 2010. It's special for both of us to be in a major final again, ' he said.

Federer could have an advantage Sunday, having played a day earlier than Nadal, on the blue hardcourts of Melbourne. I'm happy, though, with a lot of things.

His injury takes nothing away from a vintage Nadal performance, however, it is another opportunity lost for a man who is at the top of the list to be the next first-time grand slam victor.

Possibility for severe weather Sunday
Forecasters expect storms will move along during the nighttime hours to make way for a sunny Tuesday with a high in the low 70s. Then there could be a lull in activity before another round of storms begins Saturday night and lasts into Sunday morning.


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