• Written by FourFourTwo Media

Australian Open 2017: Nadal to meet Federer in final

 

Rafael Nadal set up a much-anticipated Australian Open final against old rival Roger Federer with an epic, five-set semi-final win over Grigor Dimitrov.

The Spaniard won 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 in almost five hours to reach a first Grand Slam final since 2014.

Dimitrov's wait to reach a maiden Slam final continues after Nadal, 30, inflicted his first defeat of the year.

Nadal, who is bidding for a 15th major title, will face Swiss rival Federer, 35, in Melbourne on Sunday.

The ninth seed will meet Federer, who needed five sets to beat compatriot Stan Wawrinka in Thursday's first semi-final, in Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena at 08:30 GMT.

As well as a day's extra rest, Federer spent an hour less on court during his semi-final than Nadal, having beaten three-time Grand Slam winner Wawrinka in a comparatively quick three hours and five minutes.

Both Nadal and Dimitrov showed incredible endurance in a match during which neither man looked like wilting.

Eventually the 25-year-old Bulgarian buckled first - losing his serve at 4-4 in the deciding set - as Nadal wrapped up victory with his third match point at almost 00:45 local time.

His victory means all four singles finalists are aged 30 or over, with 35-year-old Serena Williams meeting sister Venus, 36, in the women's final on Saturday.

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  • Written by FourFourTwo Media

Williams Sisters to Battle in Aus Open Final

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Venus and Serena Williams will meet in a Grand Slam final for the ninth time after the American sisters came through their semi-finals in Melbourne.

Thirteenth seed Venus, 36, beat fellow American Coco Vandeweghe 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-3 to reach her first major final since 2009.

World number two Serena, 35, saw off unseeded Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2 6-1 in the second semi-final.

Serena is attempting to win an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

It would also be a seventh Australian Open victory for the younger Williams sister, while Venus hopes to win an eighth major title, first in Melbourne and first since Wimbledon in 2008.

"It is unbelievable to watch Serena play tennis - the way she hits the ball and the competitor she is," Venus Williams said after the first semi-final.

"It would be a dream to see her on the opposite side of the net on Saturday."

Speaking after her win, Serena said: "I am really proud of Venus - she is a total inspiration. I am really happy for her and to be in the final together is a dream for us.

"She is my toughest opponent, no-one has ever beaten me as much as Venus.

"I feel no matter what that we have both won after all we have been through. I know a Williams is going to win this tournament."

Lucic-Baroni was playing her first Grand Slam semi-final for 18 years, but it only lasted 50 minutes as Serena Williams dominated in her 34th major semi-final.

It was their third meeting but their first since 1998, when the pair were teenagers.

Williams will return on Saturday to try to make history once again by surpassing Steffi Graf and winning a 23rd major singles title.

Once she broke Lucic-Baroni's serve in the third game there was only going to be one winner, runs of five straight games and six straight games bringing her each set.

"The serve was a little better today. I want it to be a little better. I knew it needed to be good because Mirjana is a great returner," added Williams - BBC

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