Australian Open 2017, Day 12, as it happened: Rafael Nadal wins in 5 thrilling sets to set up final against Roger Federer

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Australian Open 2017, Day 12, as it happened: Rafael Nadal wins in 5 thrilling sets to set up final against Roger Federer
  • 21:50 (IST)

    Thank you so much for following  our live blog through all the madness today!

    We'll be back tomorrow for the women's singles final and the men's doubles final. 

    Make sure you tune in again tomorrow! 

  • 21:44 (IST)

    Order of play on centre court at the Australian Open on Saturday (x denotes seeding):

    Rod Laver Arena

    2:00 PM IST (0830 GMT)

    Venus Williams (USA x13) v Serena Williams (USA x2)

    Henri Kontinen (FIN)/John Peers (AUS x4) v Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA x3)

  • 21:18 (IST)

    Before we sign off, here's our throwback of the day! From the last time Federer and Nadal played in the Australian Open final in 2009.

  • 21:14 (IST)

    We can't wait for the finals!

  • 19:44 (IST)

    This has been a record-breaking Grand Slam throughout

  • 19:42 (IST)

    Between the four singles finalists, they share SIXTY Grand Slam titles.

    Serena Williams - 22

    Roger Federer - 17

    Rafale Nadal - 14

    Venus Williams - 7

  • 19:38 (IST)

    Here all the head-to-head numbers:

  • 19:21 (IST)

    So the Australian Open men's final has been decided

    No. 9 Rafael Nadal vs No. 17 Roger Federer

  • 19:18 (IST)

    Rafael Nadal is through to his 4th Australian Open final!

    The Spaniard defeats Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 in 4 hours and 56 minutes.

  • 19:18 (IST)

    Rafael Nadal is through to his 4th Australian Open final!

    The Spaniard defeats Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 in 4 hours and 56 minutes.

  • 19:15 (IST)

    Nadal wins 6-4 in the 5th

    Nadal wins the first point as Dimitrov sends his backhand long. 15-0.

    Another long forehand from Dimitrov and it's 30-0 in Nadal's favour. 

    Nadal with an unforced error and it's 15-30. 

    Dimitrov with a sensational forehand pass on full stretch, Nadal can't control the volley and Dimitrov wins the point. 30-30.

    Nadal with a huge serve that clips the line and it's MATCH POINT for Nadal. 

    Courageous point from Dimitrov, long rally and Dimitrov comes into th net. Saves match point as he smashes it to make deuce. 

    Superb serve from Nadal and it's MATCH POINT #2.

    Second match point saved by Dimitrov with a forehand winner down the line. Deuce again.

    Dimitrov's return was just long and it's MATCH POINT #3 for Nadal. 

    Dimitrov sends a backhand long and NADAL WINS! 

  • 19:06 (IST)

    Dimitrov broken and trails 4-5

    Nadal hits a surreal forehand winner that just clips the line to make it 0-15.

    Double fault from Dimitrov and it's 0-30.

    Nadal sends his forehand long and it's 15-30. 

    Smacking forehand from Dimitrov and he makes it 30-30. 

    Nadal gets lucky as Dimitrov's forehand kisses the net and goes out. 

    BREAK POINT for Nadal and he converts!

    Nadal will now serve for a place in the final at 5-4. 

  • 19:01 (IST)

    Nadal saves two break points for a 4-4 hold

    0-30 window for Dimitrov on Nadal's serve. 

    Nadal wins the next point by slicing it with lots of top spin. 

    Dimitrov wins the next point with an overhead smash and brings up two BREAK POINTS! 15-40.

    Nadal saves the first with a long rally, pushes Dimitrov out wide and then hits a backhand winner down the line. 30-40.

    Another lovely point from Nadal - perfectly constructed - finishes with a sweet drop shot. Deuce.

    Nadal with a tremendous hold. So clutch on break points. 4-4. 

  • 18:54 (IST)

    Dimitrov holds for 4-3

    Deuce on Dimitrov's serve.

    And then Dimitrov serves out a whooper. He gets advantage and holds with a brilliant forehand winner. 

  • 18:52 (IST)

    And look at Dimitrov right now! Keeping up with Nadal in the 5th set after 4 hours and 30 minutes of play.

  • 18:50 (IST)

    Quick love-hold for Nadal and it's 3-3. 

    Time and energy conservation will be important for both players in this 5th set. Already past midnight in Melbourne. 

    Remember, Roger Federer has one extra day of rest before the final as he played his match on Thursday. Will that make a difference on Sunday?

  • 18:45 (IST)

    Massive hold for Dimitrov after saving break point

    Nadal makes it 30-30 after 0-30. 

    And then Dimitrov hits a backhand into the net and it's break point for Nadal. 

    Big serve from Dimitrov and Nadal commits an error on return. It's DEUCE.

    Another monstrous serve from the Bulgarian and he brings up game point. 

    Dimitrov holds with a smash!

  • 18:42 (IST)

    Nadal makes it 2-2

    Insane level of tennis from both players. This 5th set is turning into one of the best in the tournament so far. It's on serve at 2-2.

  • 18:41 (IST)

  • 18:39 (IST)

  • 18:38 (IST)

    The first of those two jaw-dropping points.

  • 18:36 (IST)

  • 18:35 (IST)

    Dimitrov holds for 2-1

    Two absolutely brilliant points back-to-back from Dimitrov and then he comes up with an ace to grind out a hold from 15-15. 

    The second point that Dimitrov won was off a gorgeous pick up off his shoelaces. 

  • 18:32 (IST)

    21 minutes into the 5th set it's 1-1

    Dimitrov attacks the Nadal serve, and gets rewarded with 0-30. 

    A really long, grinding rally and Nadal forces Dimitrov out wide, gets a short return, comes into the net and then wins the point. 15-30.

    Huge serve from Nadal drags Dimitrov wide on his backhand and then Nadal hits the forehand behind him to make it 30-30.

    Gorgeous backhand down the line winner from Dimitrov and he has a break point!

    Dimitrov can't control his forehand on the next point and it goes to deuce. 

    Nadal holds after two errors from Dimitrov. It's just 1-1 and two games have already taken 21 minutes.

  • 18:25 (IST)

    Dimitrov holds for 1-0

    Crazy, long opening game to open the 5th set. 

    Nadal had two break points, Dimitrov saved both, it went to two more deuces, Nadal created one more, couldn't convert it and we are back at deuce. 

    After 13 minutes, Dimitrov finally holds! What a massive, massive game from him. 

  • 18:21 (IST)

  • 18:19 (IST)

  • 18:18 (IST)

    Time to have a look at the stats! 61 winners from Dimitrov and they helped him win the 4th set.

  • 18:15 (IST)

    We agree!

  • 18:15 (IST)

    Grigor Dimitrov has levelled the semi-final against Rafael Nadal by winning the 4th set tie-break. 

    After 3 hours and 55 minutes, the score reads 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4). 

  • 18:11 (IST)

    Dimitrov wins the 4th set and tie-break

    Dimitrov steps in on the previous point to win it. 

    He serves and vollleys on his 1st set point, but Nadal passes him with ease. 4-6. 

    On his second set point, Dimitrov fires a brilliant serve down the tee and wins the set after Nadal can't return it!

  • 18:09 (IST)

    Dimitrov comes up with a timely ace, makes it 5-2.

    Nadal holds on his next point, courtesy a Dimitrov error and it's 3-5. 


  • 18:07 (IST)

    Dimitrov with the mini-break, leads 4-2

    Nadal's turn to come with up with a humoungous winner to make it 2-2. 

    But Nadal drops the next point to gibe the first mini-break to Dimitrov.

    Dimitrov serves a beauty out wide, comes into the net and smashes a winner into the open court. He leads 4-2.

  • 18:06 (IST)

    No mini-breaks so far, Dimitrov at 2-1

    Nadal wins the first point of the 4th set tie-break as Dimitrov overcooks his forehand. 

    Dimitrov hits a HUGE inside-out forehand winner that Nadal challenges but Hawk-Eye shows that it just touched the line. 

    Dimitrov with another stunning cross-court winner, this time off his backhand and it's 2-1 on serve.

  • 18:02 (IST)

    We have another tie-break!

    30-0 for Dimitrov to start his must-win game. 

    He fires a perfectly-placed ace at 224 kmph to bring up game point. 40-0.

    Dimitrov double faults and it's 40-15. 

    The 15th seed hits forehand that clips the line and holds for 6-6.

  • 18:00 (IST)

    It's 3 hours 40 minutes into the match but both the players are running ravage. No signs of letting up. Can Dimitrov hold to take it to a tie-break? 

  • 17:59 (IST)

  • 17:59 (IST)

    Nadal holds for 6-5

    Dimitrov gets to 30-30. Small window of opportunity for the Bulgarian.

    Long, intense rally of 21 shots and Dimitrov tries to end it wait a drop shot but it hits the net post and bounces back on his side. 

    Game point for Nadal and he gets lucky again at the net and wins the point. 6-5.

    One game away from a final against Federer. 

  • 17:53 (IST)

    Dimitrov stays alive

    A quick love-hold with an ace to seal it and Dimitrov makes it 5-5. 

  • 17:51 (IST)

    Nadal edges ahead 5-4

    Despite a smashing inside-out forehand winner from Dimitrov to make it 0-15, Nadal holds quite comfortably to lead 5-4 in the 4th set.

    Rafael Nadal is now just *ONE* game away from reaching the Australian Open 2017 final. 

  • 17:48 (IST)

    Interesting stat that just popped up on our TV screens:

    Rafael Nadal 31 winners, 31 unforced errors

    Grigor Dimitrov 50 winners, 50 unforced errors

  • 17:47 (IST)

    Still even in the 4th set, 4-4.

    Dimitrov nets a backhand and it's 15-15. Dangerous times for him as he *must* hold every game from here and then try and break Nadal somehow.

    Three more errors from Nadal and Dimitrov holds. 4-4.

  • 17:43 (IST)

  • 17:41 (IST)

    Nadal smashes to a 4-3 lead 

    Dimitrov overreaches and Nadal gets the first point, but makes it 15-15 with a hit at the net. 
    An 18-shot long crosscourt rally follows, with Nadal hitting one out, when he misses the angle on his backhand.
    But he quickly makes up for it with a powerful smash that flummoxes Dimitrov, who hits another backhand at the net.
    A wide shot makes it 4-3 in Nadal's favor after an unsuccessful review. 

  • 17:37 (IST)

  • 17:37 (IST)

    Dimitrov makes it 3-3

    Nadal drives a backhand into the net to give Dimitrov the first point, but promptly follows wth his own shot at the net to level 15-15.
    But Dimitrov induces a wayward shot to make it 30-15, before hitting his own outside for 30-30.
    The Bulgarian then unleashes his big serve at an sharp angle and noses ahead and gets the game with another outside by Nadal.
    3-3 in the fourt set 

  • 17:32 (IST)

  • 17:32 (IST)

    Nadal muscles through 3-2 lead 

    Dimitrov drops one right on the line to take the first point thanks to his classic backhand winner, before Nadal evens it out.
    Nadal's incisive serve is answered by a massive smash and an unforced error, levelling the game at 30-30.
    A 21-shot long rally follows, where Nadal sneaks one past an close approaching Dimitrov to take the lead and a wayward shot gives the Spaniard a 3-2 lead in the fourth set. 

  • 17:30 (IST)

  • 17:27 (IST)

    Fourth set even at 2-2 

    Comfortable holds for both players as they even out the fourth set.

    Dimitrov shows another glimpse of his classic backhand, as well as his unwitting unforced errors in the fourth game.
    The Bulgarian will need more that trusty one-handed shot if he wants to outplay Nadal who looks to be giving no free points.
    The Spaniard pulls the game to deuce with a timely smash, but Dimitrov comes through. 

Preview: Rafael Nadal's path to his Australian Open semi-final against Grigor Dimitrov on Friday has taught the 30-year-old Spaniard one thing -- he's still got it.

After being bundled out in the first round by compatriot Fernando Verdasco last year, Nadal has reached his fifth semi-final at Melbourne Park in a remarkable turnaround for the 14-times grand slam winner.

A barren 2016 saw him fail to reach at least one grand slam final for the first time since 2004 and while he won Olympic doubles gold at the Rio Games a troubling wrist injury forced him to call time on his season in early October.

 Australian Open 2017, Day 12, as it happened: Rafael Nadal wins in 5 thrilling sets to set up final against Roger Federer

Rafael Nadal will play Grigor Dimitrov. AFP

Hard work has been central to the latter part of Nadal's career, particularly as knee and wrist injuries forced him to miss large chunks of recent seasons.

Questions were being raised as to whether he still had the physicality and game to match the likes of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Warwinka and the evergreen Roger Federer, as well as the new generation coming through.

The last three rounds at Melbourne Park have answered those questions decisively as Nadal beat 24th seed Alexander Zverev in five sets, sixth seed Gael Monfils in four, then outclassed third seed Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals.

Next up is Dimitrov.

Once tipped as the young player most likely to challenge the established order, the Bulgarian has struggled to live up to those expectations and was hindered by off-court distractions.

Friday will mark just his second grand slam semi-final but the 25-year-old feels that under new coach Daniel Vallverdu he now has the mental strength and attitude to match the game that prompted those expectations.

Things have indeed gone his way this year.

Dimitrov is on a winning run of 10 matches that earned him the Brisbane International title and has taken him to the last four at the Australian Open.

However, he knows that means little when he steps on court against Nadal, who has won seven of their eight previous encounters.

"In order to win a slam, there's no shortcut," the 15th seed said. "If you think about it, when have you seen an easy semi-final or something like that?

"You got to work for it. I have to fight, I have to be ready."

Here's the Order of Play for Friday:

Rod Laver Arena

9:30 AM IST (0400 GMT)

Samantha Stosur (AUS)/Sam Groth (AUS) v Sania Mirza (IND)/Ivan Dodig (CRO x2)

Not before 10:30 AM IST

Andrea Hlavackova (CZE)/Peng Shuai (CHN x12) v Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)/Lucie Safarova (CZE x2)

Not Before 2:00 PM IST

Rafael Nadal (ESP x9) v Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x15)

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Updated Date: Jan 27, 2017 21:50:00 IST