Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer: Critical Info for 2014 Australian Open Semifinal

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Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer: Critical Info for 2014 Australian Open Semifinal
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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will renew one of tennis' greatest rivalries at the 2014 Australian Open when they meet for the 11th time on a Grand Slam stage.

The world No. 1 and overall top seed in the men's draw, Nadal will be favored to improve on his current four-match winning streak against Federer and advance to the Aussie Open final for the third time since 2009.

However, Rafa knows better than anyone that Federer can't be counted out. Not only has he won a men's record 17 Grand Slam titles over the course of his legendary career, but he's playing with a tremendous amount of confidence after knocking off top-10 players in back-to-back rounds. 

With the Happy Slam's marquee men's semifinal fast approaching, let's get you ready to watch.

 

Date: Friday, January 24, 2014

Start Time: 7:30 p.m. (local time), 3:30 a.m. ET

Where: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne Park

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

 

Breaking Down the Head-to-Head

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Nadal and Federer have met 32 times since 2004, with Day 12's semifinal marking the 33rd career meeting between the two tennis icons.

Rafa leads the all-time head-to-head 22-10 but has had a fair share of his success against Federer on clay, having gone 13-2 in their 15 clay-court showdowns since the 2005 French Open. Still, Nadal's wins haven't been limited to the red stuff. He leads Federer 8-6 in hard-court matchups, having won seven of nine matches on outdoor hard courts.

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Two of those hard-court victories have come at the Australian Open, with Nadal boasting a 2-0 record over Federer at the season's first Slam.

Rafa topped Federer in four sets in the semifinals at Melbourne Park in 2012 and survived a thrilling five-set championship match against Federer in the 2009 final Down Under.

For the most part throughout their decade-long rivalry, Federer's success has come on grass and indoor hard courts. The Swiss legend is a combined 6-2 against Nadal on those surfaces.

However, over the past six years this rivalry has been owned by Rafa, who is 14-4 vs. Federer since the start of 2008. This past year marked the first time since 2008 that Federer failed to record a win over Nadal, who swept their four meetings.

 

How They Got Here

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Nadal and Federer are clearly both peaking as they gear up for Friday's semifinal. While Federer is the first to admit that he can do a much better job of capitalizing on his break-point chances, according to Piers Newbery's BBC report, it's hard to find many weaknesses in his game at the moment. 

After all, both players have combined to lose just two sets total through the first five rounds.

Journey to the Semifinals
Rafael Nadal (1) Roger Federer (6)
1st Round Def. B. Tomic; 6-4, retired Def. J. Duckworth; 6-4, 6-4, 6-2
2nd Round Def. T. Kokkinakis; 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 Def. B. Kavcic; 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (4)
3rd Round Def. G. Monfils (25); 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 Def. T. Gabashvili; 6-2, 6-2, 6-3
4th Round Def. K. Nishikori (16); 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (3) Def. J. Tsonga (10); 6-3, 7-5, 6-4
Quarterfinals Def. G. Dimitrov (22); 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7), 6-2 Def. A. Murray (4); 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3)

AusOpen.com

Rafa has been tested in his two previous matchups with Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori, but his response to the pressure has been awfully encouraging. His 4-0 record in tiebreaks at this year's tournament speaks to his poise and ability to play his best tennis in the biggest moments.

On the other hand, it's been mostly smooth sailing for Federer, who was a lost tiebreak away from sweeping Murray in straight sets in the quarterfinals.

Overall, Nadal has won 10 consecutive singles matches since the start of 2014, winning a hard-court singles title in Doha to begin the year. Meanwhile, Federer is off to an 8-1 start in 2014 and is looking revitalized after a dismal 2013 campaign by his standards. 

Therefore, separating these two superstars is no easy task. While the head-to-head tells a tale of Nadal dominance, Federer was won this tournament four times and is no stranger to the big stage. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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