rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Sports » Nadal blister could hand Federer crucial edge in Aus Open semis

Nadal blister could hand Federer crucial edge in Aus Open semis

January 24, 2014 09:08 IST

Nadal blister could hand Federer crucial edge in Aus Open semis

     Next

Next

Rafael Nadal has suffered a number of career-threatening injuries in the past yet a bad blister on the Spaniard's hand could be all Roger Federer needs to gain a vital advantage in their Australian Open semi-final on Friday.

The 27-year-old Nadal has been forced to play the season opening Grand Slam with strapping across his left hand due to the sore, which is painful enough to compromise his aggressive style of play.

Holding the racket is not a problem and he remains able to hit his powerful topspin forehand but the world number one has found it increasingly difficult to control his serve as the tournament has progressed.

"Serving with this injury leads to problems with the rest of my game," he said.

"When you lose confidence with one shot, an important shot, then you are not able to feel comfortable about the rest of your shots.

"I will try to improve that. If not, I won't have a chance of being in the final."


Image: Rafael Nadal
Photographs: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

     Next

Federer reached only one Grand Slam semi-final since Wimbledon 2012

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

That Nadal has identified such an innocuous injury, given his creaky knees have been bothering his scampering play for years, as a potential key to winning his semi-final shows how aware he is that Federer may be playing as well as ever.

The 32-year-old Swiss had a terrible 2013, winning just one tournament and falling to sixth in the rankings.

He entered the Australian Open with his lowest seeding at a the season opening Grand Slam since 2002, when he was ranked 13th in the world.

Last year's performances allowed pundits to suggest the Swiss's time had come.

He had reached only one Grand Slam semi-final since claiming a 17th major title by beating Andy Murray at Wimbledon in 2012 and was losing more games to players outside the 'Big Four' than he had previously.


Image: Roger Federer
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Prev     Next

'I definitely sensed that... I am back physically'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

In the past 10 days at Melbourne Park, however, Federer has appeared to be close to his free flowing best, none more so in his fourth round victory over France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and then in Wednesday's quarter-final against Murray.

"It's an amazing result for me to be in the semis again. This one feels different because of the tougher times I've had in Slams, Wimbledon, at the US Open," the four time champion at Melbourne Park said.

"I definitely sensed that... I am back physically.

"I'm explosive out there. I can get to balls. I'm not afraid to go for balls.

"Of course, last year at times I couldn't do it, but the important thing is that I can do it now."


Image: Roger Federer (right) with his coach Stefen Edberg during a training session
Photographs: Matt King/Getty Images

Prev     Next

'He's been tough to play against, no doubt'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Despite his blister, Nadal will enter the semi-final as the favourite having racked up an impressive 22-10 career record against Federer.

The Spaniard has won the last four times the pair have met and Nadal also triumphed in their Melbourne Park semi-final two years ago.

"He's been tough to play against, no doubt. I'm happy I get a chance to play him in a Slam again. I don't remember the last time we played," Federer said.

"The head-to-head record is in his favour. I'm looking forward to speaking to (coach) Stefan (Edberg), because when we spoke together, 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."


Image: Rafael Nadal
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Prev     Next

'Still feel maybe there's something big around the corner.'

Prev     More
Prev

More

Federer, who has been batting back retirement questions since 2009, said he is not going to be thinking too far ahead of his match against Nadal and feels that his age is tacitly lowering expectations upon him.

"Things don't get easier. But at the same time they might become more enjoyable (and)... maybe I can play with less pressure," he said.

"I still love competition. Still feel maybe there's something big around the corner.

"For me, it's (been) a dream run and I hope I can keep it up against Rafa."


Image: Roger Federer
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Prev     More
Source:
© Copyright 2013 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.