Nadal defies injury to make Aussie Open final

MIKE HEDGE
Last updated 02:27 25/01/2014
Rafael Nadal
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RELIEF: Rafael Nadal has been battling blister issues on his racquet hand but it did not cause any problems against Roger Federer.

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He had trouble holding the racquet, but still made a fellow champion look inadequate.

Rafael Nadal showed again why he is the world's best tennis player on Friday night, confirming his superiority over one the greatest there's ever been and winning his way into his 19th grand slam final.

Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 6-3 and will play "the other Swiss guy" Stanislas Wawrinka on the same Melbourne court on Sunday night.

The Spaniard who took turns in the No 1 spot with Federer for many years asserted himself with a performance achieved with a considerable handicap.

Nadal has struggled with a severely blistered racquet hand for his past few matches and again needed courtside treatment on Friday night.

Television cameras revealed a raw and bloody wound on the palm of his left hand, exactly where the racquet rests.

Despite the injury, the 27-year-old will go into the final as favourite to beat Wawrinka, who has been the revelation of this Australian Open.

Nadal declared he would be fit and ready for the challenge of winning his 14th grand slam title.

"Too much talk about the blister," he said after beating Federer.

"To do normal life the blister is perfect.

"To play best-of-five against the best players in the world is another thing. But the blister is OK."

For Federer, 32, the sixth seed, the defeat suggests his presence as a major force in world tennis is near its end.

Once a fixture in grand slam finals, he has now missed the decider at the past six majors.

The semi-final defeat means he must also step down as Switzerland's No 1, a position he's held for almost 14 years and which will now be occupied by Wawrinka.

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- AAP

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