Roger Federer beats Andy Murray to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open
The sixth seed appears in the last four for the 11th year in a row
17-time grand slam winner Federer advances to a meeting with top seed Rafael Nadal
World No. 1 Nadal defeats Grigor Dimitrov in his quarterfinal
While all about him were losing their heads, Roger Federer kept his cool.
In a week when grand slam champions have been falling like flies at the Australian Open, the old master survived a fourth-set fightback to defeat world No. 4 Andy Murray 6-3 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3.
Federer’s win means he advances to the last four in Melbourne for the 11th year in a row, with his archrival Rafael Nadal standing between him and a sixth final.
Top seed Nadal had beaten Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov earlier on Wednesday to continue his bid for a 14th grand slam title.
Federer and Nadal met in the semifinals two years ago, the latter emerging victorious, while the Spaniard holds a 22-10 winning record over the Swiss star having won the last four matches between them.
“He’s been tough to play against, no doubt,” Federer told reporters when asked about Nadal.
“I’m happy I get a chance to play him in a grand slam again. I don’t remember the last time we played.”
Federer recently recruited six-time grand slam winner Stefan Edberg to his coaching team, with the Swede set to spent 10 weeks working with the former world No. 1 throughout the season.
With Edberg now onside, Federer is hoping he can reverse his fortunes against Nadal.
“The head-to-head record is in his favor,” the 32-year-old told reporters. “I’m looking forward to speaking to Stefan, because when we spoke together, you know, when he came to Dubai and we spoke about the game, we clearly spoke about playing Rafa, as well.
“He thought he had some good ideas, so I’m looking forward to what he has to say.”
Nadal narrowly avoided joining second seed Novak Djokovic – beaten by Federer’s compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka on Tuesday – on the sidelines, eventually overcoming Dimitrov, the Bulgarian’s cheering section and a nasty blister on the Spaniard’s left palm.
The world No. 1 prevailed 3-6 7-6 7-6 6-2, saving three set points in the third set.
“I was so lucky,” Nadal said in an on-court interview. “I felt anything could happen in the third set.
“A lot of Bulgarians here today. Thanks everyone for supporting – it was a great atmosphere. I hope you enjoyed it. I suffered a lot.”
Nadal said the blister, which troubled him in the previous round, particularly affects him on serve and he duly struck three double faults in one game.
But it was Dimitrov – the man, now to his dismay, still being compared to Federer because of their similar styles – who faltered on the key points. He missed a makeable forehand and return on two of his three set points in the third.
His backers were frequently out of their chairs chanting his name throughout the three-and-a-half-hour encounter, prompting one fan to counter, “Shut up and sit down.”
Dimitrov left the court in tears and then became emotional when speaking to reporters.
“It should hurt, and it does hurt,” said the Bulgarian.