Australian Open Schedule 2014: Day 12 Matchups, Predictions and Analysis

Alex KayCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2014

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26:  Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafael Nadal of Spain embrace at the net after their semifinal match during day eleven of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The 2014 Australian Open is winding down, with the women’s and one half of the men’s championship matchup set. It’s been an intriguing tournament rife with upset, but the main draw of Day 12 will be devoid of any shocking results.

Instead, we will be treated to a good old-fashioned battle between longtime rivals Roger Federer and top seed Rafael Nadal, as the former attempts to revive his legendary career with another major victory at age 32.

With not much else going on outside of doubles matches on Friday, let’s focus in on where you can catch this men’s semifinal, preview the action and predict a winner for yet another historic Federer vs. Nadal showdown.

 

Where: Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia

When (local): Friday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m. 

When (U.S.): Friday, Jan. 24, at 3:30 a.m. ET

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Draws: Men'sWomen's 

2014 Australian Open, Day 12 Marquee Matches
CourtTime (Local)MatchupPredicted Winner
Rod Laver Arena7:30 p.m. (third match)Rafael Nadal (ESP)[1] vs. Roger Federer (SUI)[6] Federer
AusOpen.com

 

Preview

While Fed vs. Rafa is considered one of tennis’ great rivalries, it hasn’t exactly been even. Nadal has won 22 of the 32 times these superstars have faced off and has an 8-2 record in Grand Slam matchups against Federer.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10:  Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerland changeover during their men's singles semi-final match on day seven of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at O2 Arena on November 10, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo b
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Regardless, the Swiss veteran isn’t going to just roll over in this semis clash. It’s a new-look Fed in 2014, complete with a 98-inch racket and fresh attitude after tumbling down the rankings following a dismal 2013 season.

Fed told reporters at the Aussie Open that he’s been hitting quite well and noted that it came together in time for his four-set victory over Andy Murray in the semis:

The aging star will need that great hitting to carry over and then some if he’s going to oust Rafa in this event for the first time in his career.

Federer and Nadal have met twice before in Melbourne, with the “King of Clay” taking both—the first for the title in 2009 and the latest for a finals appearance in 2012.

The Spaniard hasn’t been able to break through at the Happy Slam since that 2009 "W" over Fed. It's a streak he is looking to end and could get a step closer to with a win over his old rival on Friday.

A finals victory in Australia would mark Nadal’s 14th Grand Slam title, while Federer would add a record-extending 18th major to his trophy case.

Both Fed and Nadal are at the top of their games heading into this semifinal tilt and it should be nothing short of a most thrilling affair. It would be disappointing to see anything less than an hours-long, five-set showing that feels as if it could truly go either way heading into the final set.

That’s exactly what you can expect, although I’m giving Federer a slight edge due to the new racket and sky-high confidence after beating Murray. A small boost like that can make a major difference in a showdown between two all-time greats.

Prediction: Federer wins, 6-4, 6-7, 7-6, 4-6, 9-7