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Nadal beats Federer in straight sets

AAP logoAAP 24/01/2014 Darren Walton
n © AP Photo/Aaron Favila n

Rafael Nadal will play Stanislas Wawrinka for the Australian Open crown after heaping yet more grand slam misery on Roger Federer tonight.

Clubbing winner after winner in a devastating display of power and precision, Nadal crushed Federer 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 6-3 in their much-hyped semi-final at Melbourne Park.

The two-hour, 24-minute masterclass repeated his victory over Federer in the 2012 semi-finals and maintained the Spaniard's seven-year stronghold over the Swiss in matches that matter most.

Victory also improved Nadal's overall head-to-head dominance over his career-long friend and foe to a lopsided 23 and 10.

Federer's defeat also ensures Wawrinka will supplant the 17-times grand slam as Swiss No.1 when the new rankings are released on Monday.

But Nadal will be an overwhelming favourite to defeat Wawrinka on Sunday night to join Australians Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as only the third man in history to win the sport's four majors at least twice.

With his childhood idol and now coach Stefan Edberg watching on, Federer tried everything to reverse his run of outs against the world No.1.

He served and volleyed, he chipped and charged, he rushed the net and went for broke.

But, in the end, it was again an all-too-familiar tale, with Nadal's brutal forehand overpowering Federer's elegant but errant backhand.

As Nadal bludgeoned almost twice as many winners to Federer, the Swiss sprayed 50 unforced errors and was left to lament being unable to snatch the opening set in a tiebreaker to gain a foothold in the match.

Nadal hasn't lost to Federer at a major since the 2007 Wimbledon final and his latest triumph might prompt a re-think from Pete Sampras about where the two tennis titans rank among the modern-day greats.

Earlier on Friday, Sampras - at Rod Laver Arena to watch the match - said Federer still had "the numbers" to be considered No.1.

Less than five hours later, Nadal found himself within one tantalising victory of joining Sampras in second place on the all-time grand slam leaderboard.

He will likely have 14 on Sunday, just three shy of Federer's benchmark 17.

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