At this point, it’s likely safe to say Rafael Nadal has reached a level of tennis unlike anything the sport has seen in quite some time. Nadal has thus far started the new season much like he did last year when he went 75-7 overall with 10 singles titles, including two grand slams.
The 27-year-old Spaniard cruised past 17-time slam champion Roger Federer 7-6 6-3 6-3 in Friday’s Australian Open semifinals, and will next face Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka in the finals. It was yet another example of Nadal demonstrating his superiority in the sport.
Consider how top-ranked Nadal has lost five times in the last nine months, and all but one of the losses was in a final or semifinal. In Melbourne, the one set he dropped to Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals was the only set Nadal has lost thus far in the ATP season.
Nadal now has a chance to be the first man to ever win all four majors a minimum of two times in a career in the Open Era.
Nadal is also a perfect 12-0 against Wawrinka, having never dropped a set. He did, however, need two tiebreakers to win both sets in their most recent meeting in the ATP World Tour finals last year.
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Not to mention he moved his all-time record against Federer to a dominating 23-10, with four of the last five wins coming on hard court rather than Nadal’s preferred surface of clay.
Nadal’s run can best be compared to Federer’s torrid stretch through the early and mid-2000s, when the Swiss star won 14 of his 17 titles over a five year span.
No. 2 Novak Djokovic was all set to take Federer’s place on tennis’s shiny and lofty mantle before last year when many questions surrounded how Nadal would return from a knee that kept him out for seven months.
But Nadal roared back to split his six matches with Djokovic last year, including the four-set thriller at the U.S Open final. Unfortunately Wawrinka made fans wait a little longer for another epic Nadal-Djokovic battle after beating the Serb in five sets in the quarters.
For now fans will have to settle for watching Nadal likely claim the 14th major championship of his career in Sunday’s final.