MELBOURNE, Australia -- Rafael Nadal turned a marquee match into a routine victory on Friday, defeating Roger Federer 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Inconveniently for Federer, it was the best match of the tournament from the top seed, who silenced doubts about the status of his blistered hand and his uneven form through the first five rounds to rout his longtime rival in two hours and 24 minutes.
"I don't expect him to be worse off just because of a blister or worse off because he's having an up-and-down sort of performance at this event," Federer said after the loss. "When he usually comes in against me, he always plays solid, if not great. So I think it was one of those nights again, which I knew was going to be tough."
Nadal moved to 23-10 lifetime against Federer and scored his sixth consecutive victory in Grand Slam meetings. He'll face Federer's Swiss countryman Stanislas Wawrinka in Sunday's final.
Here are some of our favorite photos from Friday's semifinal:
Nadal faced only two break points, both in the third set. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Much was made of the power that Federer was getting on his backhand with his new racket, but he hit just two winners off that wing. (Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images)
Still as graceful as ever.
Is Nadal even adjusting the position of the ball kids now? This obsession is officially out of control. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
A blistered hand didn't prevent Nadal from protecting his serve with ease. He won 73 percent of both his first- and second-serve points. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)
Federer found himself on the run far too much for his liking. (Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)
He probably hit that for a winner. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)
By the third set, one couldn't blame Federer if he were ready to throw in the towel. (Rick Rycroft/AP)
Maybe he should go with an even bigger racket. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)
Federer made his 11th consecutive Australian Open semifinal but fell short of his fifth title in Melbourne. (Aaron Favila/AP)