Rafa defeated the Swiss superstar 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-4 to reach his second final in Australia.
The Maestro got off to a sweet start in the first set, breaking his opponent in his first service game and showcasing some brilliant shot-making. However, the resilient Spaniard broke back soon thereafter and it was an even affair again.
The first set was to be decided by a tiebreak—a fitting start to such an enjoyable match. Before that tiebreak was played, the two players had a 9-9 head-to-head tiebreak record (and 5-5 in Slams). Both players also had the same tiebreak record in 2011, which was 20-9.
Roger Federer got the early mini-break and did not concede even one point on his serve, taking the first set 7-5 in the breaker. Roger's first and second serve percentages were very high in the opener, and he won 90 percent of second-serve points, which is an unusual occurrence for him against the lefty.
The next set saw Federer mimic the start of the first set, breaking Nadal at love in the opening game. But, Rafa bounced back and broke his rival back at love as well.
Nadal dominated the match in the second set, getting Roger involved in more baseline-oriented and physical points. When Roger was down 5-2, the match was delayed for 10 minutes to allow the celebratory fireworks show for Australia Day to go on without disturbing play.
Roger was not the same after coming back from the restroom to play, as he lost 11 points in a row, finding himself in a funk. Down 0-40 in his first service game, he came back to hold serve and the match remained on serve.
Roger then broke his opponent a couple of games later, just to have his own serve broken right back.
In the third-set tiebreak, Rafa raced to a 6-1 lead, but Federer was determined to make the nervous Spaniard at least earn the set, which he did by serving for it at 6-5.
Roger and Rafa continued to hold serve until 4-4. Rog was determined to get the break at 4-3, but Rafa fought off break points like the warrior everybody knows him to be. Fed Express hit a backhand wide to concede his own serve and allow Nadal to serve for the match.
The No. 2 seed was visibly nervous, and Roger even granted himself two break point chances to level the set, but there was no looking back for the man across the net.
Roger struck a forehand long to end the match and his hopes at winning the Happy Slam.
The match was characterized by Roger's inconsistency and poor shot selection at times, and Rafa's speed and stubbornness. They both showed moments of brilliance throughout, but the five-setter that many anticipated did not result.