Rafa Nadal ruthless, swipes Federer aside

13:28, Jan 24 2014
2014 Australian Open gallery
VENUS WILLIAMS: bowed out early in the first round.
2014 Australian Open gallery
EKATERINA MAKAROVA: celebrates her surprise win over Venus Williams.
2014 Australian Open gallery
DAVID FERRER: won through to the second round.
Nivak Djokovic gallery
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: got a first round win over Lukas Lacko.
Novak Djokovic
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Shirt changes likely common at this year's Australian Open.
Serena Williams
SERENA WILLIAMS: overpowered Ashleigh Barty in the first round.
Marcos Baghdatis
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: shows flexibility's important for a pro tennis player.
Yanina Wickmayer
YANINA WICKMAYER: beat Dinah Pfizenmaier in the first round.
Sabine Lisicki
SABINE LISICKI: had a straightforward 6-2 6-1 win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round.
Caroline Wozniacki gallery
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: celebrates winning her first round match against Lourdes Dominguez Lino.
Caroline Wozniacki gallery
HARD IN THE HEAT: An official attends to a ball boy who collapsed during the men's singles match between Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain and Milos Raonic.
Caroline Wozniacki gallery
MILOS RAONIC: serves on an outside court with the Melbourne city skyline in the background.
Andy Murray gallery
ANDY MURRAY: had a comprehensive win in his first round match against Japan Go Soeda.
Marina Erakovic gallery
MARINA ERAKOVIC: hits a forehand during her first round match with Sorana Cirstea.
Serena Williams gallery
SERENA WILLIAMS: untroubled in the second round match.
Novak Djokovic gallery
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: hits a forehand during his second round match with Leonardo Mayer.
Roger Federer
ROGER FEDERER: reaches to hit a return to Blaz Kavcic.
Roger Federer
RAFAEL NADAL: fires down a serve to Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Andy Murray
ANDY MURRAY: trailing 5-1 in the third set, Murray wins 23 straight points to close out a straight sets victory over Vincent Millot.
Victoria Azarenka
VICTORIA AZARENKA'S: personalised shoes during her match against Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Australian Fanatics
'FANATICS':cheer during Nick Kyrgios' match against Benoit Paire.
Maria Sharapova gallery
Maria Sharapova hits a backhand during her third round match against Alize Cornet.
Roger Federer gallery
Roger Federer has won through to the last 16 of the Australian Open in straight sets.
2014 Australian Open gallery
Li Na in quarterfinal action against Flavia Pennetta.
2014 Australian Open gallery
Eugenie Bouchard of Canada celebrates defeating Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals.
Agnieszka Radwanska gallery
Agnieszka Radwanska is through to the Australian Open semifinals.
2014 Australian Open gallery
Agnieszka Radwanska, left, shakes hands with Victoria Azarenka after their quarterfinal.
2014 Australian Open gallery
Grigor Dimitrov, left, and Rafael Nadal speak at the net after their epic last-eight clash.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer reacts after match point against Andy Murray.
Li Na gallery
Li Na celebrates her semifinal win over Eugenie Bouchard.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal crushed Roger Federer in straight sets, and will play Stanislas Wawrinka for his 14th grand slam title in the Australian Open final.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer heads to the Australian Open exit.
Li Na
THIRD TIME LUCKY: Li Na kisses the Daphne Akhurst trophy after defeating Dominika Cibulkova in the Australian Open final.
Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova
Runner-up Dominika Cibulkova and champion Li Na during the trophy presentation.
Dominika Cibulkova
Dominika Cibulkova pumps her fist after winning a point in the Australian Open final.
Li Na
Li Na stretches for a two-handed volley in the women's final.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal receives treatment on his injured back during the men's singles final.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka reaches for a forehand during the men's singles final.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka kisses the Australian Open trophy after his first grand slam victory.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka sits with the Australian Open trophy at the post-final press conference.

Unfancied Stanislas Wawrinka stands between Rafael Nadal and another slice of tennis history after the world No.1 heaped yet more grand slam misery on Roger Federer on Friday night.

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 Australian Open 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 hold 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.

The 27-year-old is now just one tantalising win away from joining Rod Laver as only the second man in 45 years of professional tennis to claim all four grand slam singles titles at least twice.

He can also join Pete Sampras in second place on the all-time grand slam leaderboard with 14 majors, just three shy of Federer's benchmark 17 after raising his game to supreme levels once more against the mighty Swiss.

"I think I played the best match of the tournament tonight. If I didn't, I think it would be impossible to win against Roger," Nadal said.

"Playing with Roger is a very special feeling. He's probably the opponent that when I go on the court I have very, very emotional feelings.

"We've played a lot of times for important things in our careers and today was another important match.

"He's a great champion."

Federer's defeat means Wawrinka will supplant the 32-year-old from his 14-year standing as Swiss No 1.

But unbeaten in 12 encounters with Wawrinka, Nadal will be an overwhelming favourite on Sunday night to secure a second Open crown and climb another rung up the ladder among the pantheon of greats.

"I never thought about having 13 grand slam titles," he modestly said.

"I never thought about having 14. The only thing I can say is I'll try my best."

With his childhood idol and now coach Stefan Edberg watching on, Federer tried everything to reverse his run of outs against his Spanish nemesis.

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.

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

Before taking his seat at Rod Laver Arena to watch the pair slug it out for the first time live, Sampras said Federer still had "the numbers" to be considered No 1.

But not even a nasty blister on the palm of his left hand, right where he holds his racquet, could slow Nadal's march to the final.

"After missing last year for me, it's really really emotional for me to be back on this court, Rod Laver Arena, and to be able to play in another final," Nadal said.

Nadal has never even dropped a set against Wawrinka, but the top seed is refusing to under-estimate the 28-year-old after his stunning quarter-final ousting of defending champion Novak Djokovic.

"He played fantastic matches against Novak and (Tomas) Berdych," Nadal said.

"He should come to this final with big confidence."

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Rafa Nadal
CRUSHING WIN: Rafa Nadal crushed Roger Federer in straight sets, and will play Stanislas Wawrinka for his 14th grand slam title in the Australian Open final.

AAP