Rafeal Nadal has moved into the finals of the Australian Open with a solid performance against Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in a thrilling five-set encounter. The Spaniard emerged victorious 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 at the Rod Laver Arena on Friday in a match that lasted for four hours and 56 minutes.
With this win, the dream final between Nadal and Federer has been set up, which will take shape on Sunday. After the exit of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, the two former world number 1 players have stepped up their game to reach the final.
After winning the first set, one thought that Nadal might cruise his way into the finals of the Australian Open, but the ninth seed had to sweat it out, where Dimitrov pushed him to the hilt.
Nadal and Dimitrov produced tight tennis from the first set itself with some strong games from the baseline and equally brilliant serves. Dimitrov was quite dangerous with his serves in the opening set, which saw the Bulgarian drill four aces, and some incredible winners. However, it was Nadal's brilliance and Dimitrov's unforced errors, which gave Nadal the upper hand to take the set 6-3.
If Nadal looked superb in the first set, the Bulgarian showed his class in the opening stages of the second set. Dimitrov was desperate to win the set and draw level at 1-1, which was understood from his improved and determined performance. With some powerful backhand and forehand shots, Dimitrov was putting Nadal under immense pressure.
Dimitorv took a healthy 4-1 lead, and was inching towards a set victory, but Nadal, who never gives up, crawled back to make it 4-3. But, it was too close to call for both the players, keen on winning the second set. Nadal saved a few set points to make it 5-5, and enthral the audience at the arena. But Dimitrov broke Nadal's serve in crunch time to take the set, 7-5.
It was in the third set, where both the players took their game to the next level, producing some sublime tennis. Dimitrov was impressive with his ground strokes and his aces, while Nadal was returning perfectly to remain in the game, but the brilliance and experience of Nadal saw the Spaniard win some crunch points in the tie-break to take the third set.
There was a sense of Nadal rolling back the clock with his incredible returning in the fourth set. Nadal was returning most of shots thrown at him, and one also got to see the Spaniard playing those stunning passes, which one has been accustomed of seeing in his peak.
Though Nadal was looking in ominous form, Dimitrov was asking him a number of questions, unleashing his venomous strokes. The Bulgarian's serve was fantastic, and it was not easy for Nadal to break his serve, leading to 5-5 in the fourth set. Like in the fourth set, it was taken to a tie-break, but an impressive performance from the 15th seed saw the game going to the fifth set.
With the last three sets being extremely close, one was assured that the fifth set would be no different as both the players were keen to set up a date with Federer in the final. The set was utterly tight, and the game changed when Nadal pulled back to win the eight game. After which Nadal, who had backing of the home crowd, held his composure and nerves to win the match in the next two games to set up the highly-anticipated final against Federer.