Rafa Nadal survives epic to set up dream Federer final

The 14 time major winner has not played his Swiss rival in a major final for six years

BY Raf Diallo 14:02 Friday 27 January 2017, 14:02 27 Jan 2017

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov -during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, early Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Rafa Nadal has won an epic Australian Open semi final against Grigor Dimitrov to set up a final against great rival Roger Federer.

The 14 time Grand Slam winner came through a pulsating five sets against his Bulgarian opponent to set up a decider that will feature two players with a combined 31 grand slam titles.

It will be the first time in nearly six years that they will play each other in a major final.

It took five hours to separate Nadal and Dimitrov on the Melbourne court.

Nadal took the first set 6-3. But World No 15 Dimitrov fought back to take the second set 7-5.

The match would see-saw back in Nadal's favour in the third as he prevailed 7-6.

But Dimitrov made sure that they would go to a fifth and deciding set by taking the fourth 7-6.

The fifth set was a tense and tight one but Nadal broke his opponents serve to go 5-4 up and then served for the match.

He will now face Federer in a final that harks back to one of sport's great rivalries.

Before Sunday's decider, they had already met in eight Grand Slam finals, with Nadal winning six and Federer triumphing twice. Both of Federer's victories came on the grass of Wimbledon, while four of Nadal's came on the clay of Rolland Garros.  

Federer will be aiming to extend his record of Grand Slam wins to 18 by winning in the final but Nadal would move to within two of the Swiss maestro if he can win his 15th major.


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