It wasn’t a fair fight after the first set. Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer in the Australian Open semifinal 7-6, 6-3, 6-3 in another dominant performance that makes it quite clear who is the better player, advancing to the final to face another Swiss player, Stanislas Wawrinka.
Federer held on thanks to his serve through the first set, forcing a tiebreak which he lost. From that moment, something in him seemed to fade away and turn off. Rafael Nadal kept making shots; nothing too amazing, but simply not making he mistakes. He rode the Federer backhand as expected; despite the new coach and new racket, Federer was left without answers, and with a very small margin for mistakes.
He made too many unforced errors, with his forehand betraying him too many times. He didn’t move as much as you need against Nadal, which means that even after landing a seemingly impossible shot to answer, you still need to move away and wait for a return. Federer looked to complacent in too many moments, or simply without enough belief that he has it in him from the moment Nadal got his first break of service in the second set.
This will be his third Australian Open Final – he won in 2009 and lost to Novak Djokovic in 2012, this time heading in as a huge favorite to beat the number one Swiss in the world. It’s still special to see Nadal and Federer on the same court, playing a best of five, but the feeling of intensity and mystery is gone, because it’s no longer a battle among equals. Rafael Nadal is the best player in the world, Roger Federer used to be, and even if his current ability is better than what we saw from his last year, it’s not enough to win a Grand Slam final when it means going through Nadal.