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
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|2014 Australian Open, Day 12 Marquee Matches|
|Court||Time (Local)||Matchup||Predicted Winner|
|Rod Laver Arena||7:30 p.m. (third match)||Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)||Federer|
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.
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