Nadal outlasts Dimitrov in five, sets up Australian Open final vs. Federer

Eight years later, it will once again be Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer in the Australian Open final.

Nadal and Federer, who last battled for the title Down Under in 2009, survived respective semifinal thrillers to reach Sunday’s blockbuster championship match. Little more than 24 hours after Federer outlasted fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka in five, Nadal withstood an amazing performance by Grigor Dimitrov to prevail 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 in four hours and 56 minutes on Friday night.

A dramatic fifth set ultimately stole the show, but not before a top-turvy first four sets failed to separate the two competitors. It was Nadal who started fast, breaking for a 3-1 lead in the opener after saving two break points in the first game.

Following a high-quality opening set that featured just a single break, a far less straightforward–and much messier–second set saw Dimitrov get back on track. Spraying forehand errors all over the court, Nadal dropped serve on three occasions. He broke back twice, but his third service donation came when it mattered most at 5-6.

Nadal and Dimitrov traded tiebreakers in the third and fourth sets, sending the battle toward the four-hour mark while Federer undoubtedly watched contentedly in the friendly confines of his hotel room. The 14-time major champion never led by more than two points in the third-set ‘breaker, but he also never trailed. Dimitrov raced to a 5-2 advantage in the fourth-set ‘breaker and had no trouble sealing the deal.

Break points–all of the nail-biting variety, to be sure–were the story of the fifth. Dimitrov fought off three to hold for 1-0 before Nadal saved one en route to 1-1, with those two games requiring more than 20 minutes in total. Two more break-point games (Dimitrov survived one at 2-2, Nadal fended off two at 3-4) led to a 4-4 deadlock. The decisive moment finally came at 4-4, 30-40, when Nadal struck a down-the-line backhand winner to break the 15th-ranked Bulgarian.

In appropriate fashion, Dimitrov made his opponent work to stumble across the finish line. Nadal failed to convert his first two match points at 40-30 and ad-in but capitalized on his third chance when Dimitrov sent a backhand just past the baseline.


“I think Grigor played great,” the ninth-ranked Spaniard assessed. “I played great. So (it) was a great quality of tennis tonight. (It) is amazing to be through to a final of Grand Slam again here in Australia at the [start] of the year. Means a lot to me; very happy to be part of this match. I think both of us deserve to be in that final. Finally (it) was me.”

“I’m sure I’m going to look back at that match and see what I could have done better,” Dimitrov said. “But at least one thing I can say is that I left it all out on the court. I’m proud of that.”

7 Comments on Nadal outlasts Dimitrov in five, sets up Australian Open final vs. Federer

  1. This tournament will go down in history. Happy for all the players, men, women, and doubles. Leaning towards Rafa, Serena and the Bryans.

  2. Though Nadal player ,1 hr 50 mins more than Federer, he will recover to beat him in 4 sets. He desperately needs his 15th Grandslam ,to move 1 step ahead of sampras and to plant 2 times win record in all 4 grandslams. Even Dmitrov is called baby fed,he has more varities to shot compared to Federer. Thts why If you see earlier matches mostly Nadal had beaten him in only in 3 sets in ordinary tournaments. Moreover old ghost glared in his face in the 2nd set of the match where he missed plenty of opportunities. I hope he will come back strong not to make similar misses and beat Federer like he did in the previous meetings.

  3. Ricky… is that the highest voting pI’ll ever perhaps? Wow. That was one grueling ass match and will surely be in my top 10 favourite for 2017.

    Some of those rallies were just out of this world. So impressed with Grigor especially the mental aspect of it. Hope he can finally click on from there

    Roger people
    Bring home number 18

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