Nadal, Federer set for semifinal showdown


Rafa has too much firepower

Ubha By Ravi Ubha

Hey, Greg, how's it going, bud? Gearing up for the Super Bowl? I know you're dying to know, so I'll fill you in. The weather here has been gorgeous the past few days. Hot, hot, hot, but not high humidity. I might hit the beach one of these days.

So you're picking Roger to win? I can see where you're coming from. How many matches has he won in a row? He looked great against Bernard Tomic and Juan Martin del Potro. I truly want Roger to nab one more Grand Slam title before he retires, but I think his sojourn in Australia ends Thursday against Rafa.

Remind me, when was the last time he beat Nadal in a Grand Slam? OK, I'll save you the research: It was five years ago. Five. At Wimbledon. It's all well and good for Roger to down Rafa indoors in London, but doing it over five sets outdoors is another matter entirely. The physical aspect comes into it, and Nadal has the edge over Roger's 30-year-old body.

Keep in mind, too, that playing at night will probably help Nadal more. Sure, his own balls might have a little less sting, but Federer will find it more difficult to hit through him. Roger doesn't have fond memories of facing Rafa at night in Australia, eh?

Rafa will take so much confidence from his win over Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, and when he gets going at majors, only Novak Djokovic has been able to stop him recently. Or, make that Djokovic or injuries, and Nadal's right knee appears to be just fine. Ditto for his shoulder. His record in Grand Slam semifinals is 14-3, by the way.

That's a heck of a lot for Roger to overcome, and I don't think he will.

Nadal in five.

Expect vintage stuff from Roger

Garber By Greg Garber

I know, Ravi, I know. The numbers are not working in Roger Federer's favor.

He is 30 years old, and he's lost his past four Grand Slam matches to Rafael Nadal, seven of nine overall. But, call me crazy, I think old Roger is going to pull out some vintage stuff in Thursday's semifinal. Based on what I saw in the quarters from both of them, I like Fed's chances.

I mean, the guy has only won 24 matches in a row going back to last year. Doesn't seem like a total stretch.

Did you seem him slice up Juan Martin del Potro? Did you see Rafa struggle mightily against Tomas Berdych? Federer knows he has only so many chances left (a dozen, perhaps?) and, with the clock ticking, I think he'll show a renewed sense of urgency in this year's majors. He left a few on the table a year ago -- leading Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic two sets to none -- losing both, at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

This had to weigh heavily on a man trying to put his all-time Grand Slam singles total (16 and counting) out of reach.

Three years ago, Federer -- seeking his record-tying 14th major -- seemed to have an angle on Rafa in the Melbourne final. But he lost the fifth set 6-2 and, after 4 hours and 22 minutes, broke down when Rod Laver was poised to hand the trophy to Nadal.

"In the first moment you're disappointed, you're shocked, you're sad, then all of a sudden it overwhelms you," Federer said. "It's the worst feeling -- it's rough."

Well, Ravi, Fed needs to channel those emotions. He needs to find the fire to exact revenge, think the same kind of thoughts the New England Patriots are thinking about the New York Giants. Think about this as you relax on the beach.

Fed in five.