By Staff
January 24, 2014

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Roger Federer (left) was no match for Rafael Nadal on Friday. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Here's a sampling of the media reaction to Rafael Nadal's 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 victory over Roger Federer in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Friday:

Steve Tignor, It was apparent from the start, in case we had forgotten, that Rafael Nadal is not Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Nor is he Andy Murray. In the first set, the forays to the net that worked for Federer against those two weren’t working anymore. By the middle of the second set, Federer was struggling to get to the net at all. The player who had come in looking to take back the forecourt was stuck behind the baseline retrieving Nadal’s diving and hooking sidespin, exactly where he didn’t want to be.

Jon Wertheim, [W]hat Nadal plays on the court is not always tennis. It's akin to some kind of tribal dialect. Yes, it bears a resemblance to the court game involving a racket, balls and a 78-by-27-foot grid of boxes. But it is wildly different from any other player's game -- past, present and, we can safely say, future.

Greg Bishop, New York Times: As far as rivalries go, theirs is remarkably consistent, and has been for almost 10 years now. Take Friday. That was Federer-Nadal, match 33, in the semifinals of the Australian Open. As has been the case since 2007 whenever the two have squared off in Grand Slam tournaments, Nadal won and Federer lost and the dialogue about their places in history shifted yet again. The match played out with Nadal in front, with Nadal in control, with Nadal stinging Federer with backhands and slinging Federer around the court. For nearly two weeks now, Federer had played like the Federer of old — but Nadal beat that Federer, too, for the most part.

Greg Couch, Nadal, not Federer, is the greatest player of all time. And Nadal is in his prime. We can talk about that on Sunday, after Nadal beats Stan Wawrinka to win the title and become the first man in the open era to win each major twice. For now, the issue is that Federer has rewritten his reality these past two weeks. He’s not going to be No. 1 again. He’s not going to regain the step he has lost. He isn’t going to be able to beat Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all in the same tournament again, either. It’s going to take the perfect storm for Federer to win another major or two, but that can, and does, happen in tennis. And to get this far, this fast after making changes is actually amazing.

Matt Wilansky, Despite a disappointing ending for him, this tournament as a whole had had an eminently different feel for Federer, who came into Oz with a new coach, new frame and, most importantly, a new frame of mind. There was no indecision on his part on what he needs to do to keep his career moving forward. We emphasize "moving forward." Federer swarmed the net all tournament long, including 66 times against Murray in the quarterfinals. For a number of years, as his contemporaries have powered past Federer, there have been a lot of people asking for some sort of reform in his game. At this point in his career, that moving-forward approach might be the 17-time major champ's only salvation if he wants to remain competitive with Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Murray, whom he went 0-8 against last season. In Melbourne, Federer had more than a flashback to his Slam-winning ways. We've seen him toy with new game plans and equipment, but it's clear that he now has full trust in his tactics.

Chris Chase, For The Win: This was the biggest legacy match in the Federer-Nadal rivalry since their famous 2008 Wimbledon final. The win gives Nadal a 23-10 overall record and a 9-2 record in Grand Slams. If Nadal wins the Australian Open on Sunday, he’ll have 14 Slams to Federer’s 17. Barring injury or an act of Soderling, Rafa will make it 15 at Roland Garros. Even a FedFan’s favorite retort to claims of Nadal’s head-to-head dominance -- “it’s skewed because of all the matches on clay!” -- is moot, as the record still favors Rafa when clay matches are excluded. (He leads 10-8 off the dirt.) Even so, the clay argument has always been silly. “Rafa’s so good on this surface that it shouldn’t count.” How does that make any sense? (For what it’s worth, the far better argument is that Federer’s prime came before Nadal’s emergence as an all-court threat. Then, as Nadal hit his prime, he beat up on Federer in his twilight.)

Simon Reed, Yahoo! Eurosport UK: I always find it difficult to accept that Roger Federer can be the greatest player of all time yet have been second-best to someone for so much of his career. I would not say that Rafael Nadal is quite ready to be proclaimed 'the GOAT' – he needs to at least match Federer’s 17 Grand Slams to settle the argument – but I find it increasingly difficult to accept that he could be rated beneath Roger.

Peter Bodo, The outstanding feature of the 33rd meeting between rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was the terrible inevitability of the outcome. For those hoping for a new and perhaps final twist in this saga of mutual greatness, it was less like watching a clash of titans than a B-grade horror movie. With each passing moment, it unfolded with a dispiriting predictability.

Alix Ramsay, Australian Open: Every time he has played Nadal at a Grand Slam tournament since 2007, the result has been the same. The old Federer could not beat Nadal; the new Federer cannot beat Nadal. While the Swiss goes away to work out another plan of attack against his old rival, Nadal keeps on winning.

Melissa Isaacson,

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