One of the greatest rivalries in sport will resume in the Australian Open semi final in Melbourne as Rafael Nadal faces Roger Federer for the 33rd time, with the Spanish world number one priced up as the 4/7 favourite to prevail.
Carrying a favourable 22-10 head-to-head record over the Swiss – which includes the last four meetings, all in 2013 – it’s understandable to see Rafa most fancied to make it to the final by Ladbrokes.
However, judging by the form Andy Murray’s quarter-final conqueror has displayed at Melbourne Park, there has never been a better time to jump on Federer as the 11/8 outsider to reverse that streak.
Since hiring former world number one Stefan Edberg onto his coaching team shortly before the commencement of 2014, the forlorn figure that was ‘2013 Federer’ has been banished and replaced with a man on a mission.
The 32-year-old sixth seed has rediscovered his missing mojo, swatting all-comers en-route to this showdown – only dropping one set in a tie break against Murray in the last round.
Meanwhile, Nadal’s progress started serenely enough, but blisters on his all-important left-hand seem to have impaired his powerful game and he’s laboured a little in the last two rounds as a result.
He required two tie-breaks when defeating Kei Nishikori, before making hard work of seeing off 22nd seed Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 7-6,7-6, 6-2 in the quarters.
Crucially it’s Federer’s dominance in the serve which could swing this contest the Swiss maestro’s way though, having held 97 per cent of his service games compared to Nadal’s 90, while winning a tournament-high 83 per cent of his first-serve points.
Back to his fluent best, Fed has outgunned Nadal in nearly every other big stat department, apart from break points converted, hammering home 214 winners to Nadal’s 151.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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