Nadal thrilled by 'dream' victory, calls Federer final a privilege

By Christopher Devine 27 January 2017
Nadal thrilled by 'dream' victory, calls Federer final a privilege

An emotional Rafael Nadal said he never dreamed he could reach the 2017 Australian Open final, after ousting Grigor Dimitrov in an epic last-four tie to set up a dream showdown with Roger Federer.

Nadal was pushed to the limit by Dimitrov in a near five-hour encounter on Rod Laver Arena, but the Spaniard ultimately edged an absorbing final set - completed at 00:44 local time.

A mouth-watering contest between Federer and Nadal - two modern-era greats with 31 slam titles between them - will now take place on Sunday.

Reflecting on his triumph over Dimitrov in an on-court interview, Nadal said with a smile: "It's difficult to describe the emotions now. First of all, I was tired, and Grigor was playing unbelievable.

"It was a great match and I feel very happy now to be part of it. I enjoyed it a lot. The crowd was just amazing.

"Both weeks have been just unforgettable weeks for me and to qualify for the final in a match like this means a lot to me."

On the prospect of facing great rival Federer, whom he has beaten in six of their previous eight grand-slam final meetings, Nadal added: "For me, it's a privilege - it's a very special thing, I think for both of us, to be in the final of a major again and have another chance to compete against each other after a couple of years having some problems.

"I think, both of us, we never thought that we're gonna be here again in the final of Australia - so we feel very happy."

Nadal acknowledged the challenge he faced in bouncing back from his injury troubles, a primary factor in him dropping to ninth in the world rankings. 

"Last year was tough for me because it takes a while to come back to the level that I had," he explained.

"At Roland Garros, when I had to go back home [with a wrist injury], it was a tough moment.

"I worked a lot during this month and a half at home and I never ever dreamed to be back in a final of the Australian Open, in the second tournament of the year after a lot of months without competing, but here I am and I feel lucky and very happy."

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Christopher Devine

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