Rafael Nadal has a date in his fifth straight major final, sending Roger Federer packing in four sets down under, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. This was Rafa’s fifth consecutive win against the Swiss star, raising his record against Roger in the majors to a dominating 8-2.
Federer jumped out to a hot start in the Australian Open semifinal match, quickly going up 4-1 against Nadal in the first set. He played good, aggressive tennis, making a move on each point as early as possible and hammering Rafa’s backhand with great results.
After that though, Federer let up, and Nadal held and broke back, putting them into a first set tiebreaker. Roger pulled it out, getting the only mini-break of the tiebreaker, and seemed to get a little momentum.
Coming off of the victory, Federer broke Nadal on love and seemed to regain control. Then Nadal returned the favor, breaking back in the same manner. Two more Federer breaks gave Nadal an easy 6-2 set. Roger looked especially ugly coming off of a break for fireworks in order to celebrate Australia Day, dropping 11 straight points to Nadal.
In the third set, Federer kept putting himself in tough positions, having to save a triple-break point in order to hold his first serve. For every move he made, Nadal had a counter, and Roger kept making mistakes. Once again, after breaking Nadal, he broke back, which eventually forced a second tiebreaker. Federer couldn’t save all of the set points this time, losing on the last of the five consecutive set points.
The final set saw more of the same from Federer, who constantly had to dig himself out of break point situations. He missed out on multiple breaks, and when Nadal broke him to go up 5-4 in the fourth set, it proved fatal to Federer’s chances to pull back into the match, as he missed two more break opportunities in the last game before yielding to Nadal.
Nadal’s play was very consistent throughout the match, but Federer seemed to lose it early on. After giving up his lead in the first set, he tried to play too aggressively, making a total of 63 unforced errors in the match. He abandoned his effective strategy of hitting to Nadal’s forehand, and Nadal started to take control of the points. Nadal, for his part, was content to play defensively and watch Federer self-destruct.
No matter how well Federer plays at first, Nadal remains his kryptonite. This time, he psyched himself out, and Nadal reaped the rewards with three solid sets of tennis.
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