Federer subdues Murray to set up Nadal classic

Federer subdues Murray to set up Nadal classic

Roger Federer fought back from a mid-match stumble against Andy Murray today to set up a classic Australian Open semi-final with Rafael Nadal, as women's champion Victoria Azarenka became the latest star to fall.

After Nadal battled through an unexpectedly tough quarter-final with Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, Federer showed both his vintage best and his fallibility in beating Murray 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3.

The Swiss great was electric in the first two sets but he tightened as he neared the finishing line, and was broken when serving for the win before passing up two match points in the third-set tiebreaker.

However, he extended Murray in a 19-minute hold at the start of the fourth set, then got the crucial break for 5-3 and, after setting up a third match point, he grabbed the opportunity with an ace.

"I thought Andy did well, he kept the ball in play and put the pressure on me and unfortunately I couldn't get it done in the third set, with either the serve or the forehand missing. So I am happy to get the win in four," Federer said.

"I am much higher than I was last year and that's very satisfying just because I have confidence in my movement."

Federer, in his 11th consecutive Australian Open semi-final, will face the man who has become his Grand Slam nemesis, winning their last five encounters at major tournaments.

But a day after Novak Djokovic's three-year Melbourne reign was halted by Stanislas Wawrinka, Nadal also flirted with disaster before getting out of jail against rising Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

The 13-time Grand Slam champion, troubled by a huge blister on his racquet hand, went a set down against the exciting young prospect and, facing set points in the third, he was tottering.

But Dimitrov, 22, went just long on the first set point and Nadal saved another before the Bulgarian gave him a one-set lead when, gifted an easy winner off a net cord, he ballooned his forehand out. 

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