MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal said playing Roger Federer always brings the best out of him after he bludgeoned his way past the Swiss on Friday to reach the final of the Australian Open.
In breezy conditions inside Rod Laver Arena, Nadal romped to a 7-6(4) 6-3 6-3 victory - his 23rd in their 33 meetings - to set up a final against another Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka.
”I played a lot of times against him and a lot of times I played great against him,“ the Spaniard told reporters. ”So probably that’s why I had this success against him.
”I think I played probably my best match of the tournament. Great news that I played my best match in that semi-final against Roger.
“He arrived to that match winning two great matches against (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga and Andy (Murray) two days ago. I‘m very happy the way I played tonight and very special moment try to have the chance to be in another final.”
Former world number one Federer, who will now drop to eighth in the rankings, took the attack to Nadal in the first set, trying to get to the net and impose his game on the Spaniard.
But Nadal, who will be going for his 14th grand slam title, was up to the task throughout, ripping passing shots for winners on both sides and once he had won the first-set tiebreak, he never looked back.
The world number one admitted his game-plan was clear against Federer but said executing it under pressure was far from easy.
“Every time I go on court I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I will be able to do it or if he will give me the chance to play the way that I want to play,” he said.
”What happened in the past probably will not help me. I take every match like a different history and every day is different.
”Sure, the matches that I won against him in the past helps to make me feel confident in the way that I have to play, but that’s doesn’t mean that I will have the chance to do it again.
“Even if we played each other 32 times before this one and I was able to win against him 22, I go on court knowing that I am playing against a player that is unbelievable.”
Nadal has not dropped a set to Wawrinka in their 12 previous meetings but though the Swiss will be appearing in his first grand slam final on Sunday, the top seed said he expected an extremely tough battle.
“I saw him play against Novak (Djokovic) and I saw him play against (Tomas) Berdych,” he said.
”He’s playing great. He’s a good friend, great guy. So, happy for him that he’s in the final. He deserves it. He’s playing better and better every year.
“He’s serving unbelievable. He’s hitting the ball very strong from the baseline. If I am not able to play my best, I think I will not have chances because he’s coming to this match with a lot of victories and playing great.”
editing by Justin Palmer