Jan 24, 2014

    Nadal's injury a boon to Federer


    A REJUVENATED Roger Federer may get his best chance to end his Grand Slam torment against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open with the top seed plagued by a blister on his hand.

    The Swiss all-time Grand Slam champion has not beaten Nadal in five Slam encounters since his 2007 Wimbledon final triumph.

    But a combination of Federer's resurgence under Swedish mentor Stefan Edberg and Nadal's blister-induced weakened serve has thrown open the outcome of today's semi-final.

    Nadal was clearly discomfited by the blister in the palm of his serving hand as he spluttered with seven double-faults, two on break points, in his battling, four-set win over Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals.

    The 13-time Grand Slam champion, 27, complained that a lack of confidence in his weakened serve made him vulnerable against the Bulgarian.

    "I served slower. I served badly," said Nadal, who is on a 10-match winning run.

    "My biggest problem was the serve, because (it) gives me a problem with everything else."

    Former world No. 1 Federer, now ranked sixth, is trying to show that he is still capable of winning an 18th Grand Slam title, with his last coming at Wimbledon in 2012.

    The 32-year-old is relishing the prospect of playing the Nadal again on the big stage.

    "He's been tough to play against. I'm happy I get a chance to play him in a Slam again," said Federer, who lost to Nadal in the 2012 Australian Open semi-finals in their last Slam encounter.

    The winner of this semi-final will play Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat Czech Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) yesterday.