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
"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."
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
Last year's performances allowed pundits to suggest the Swiss's time
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
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 U.S. Open," the four time champion at Melbourne
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"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."
Despite his blister, Nadal will enter the semi-final as the
favorite having racked up an impressive 22-10 career record
The Spaniard has won the last four times the pair have met and
Nadal also triumphed in their Melbourne Park semi-final two
"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 favor. 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."
Federer, who has been batting back retirement questions since
2009, said he was not going to be thinking too far ahead of his
match against Nadal and felt that his age was 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
"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
(Writing by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington;
editing by John
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