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Page last updated at 02:36 GMT, Thursday, 26 January 2012

Australian Open 2012 day 11 as it happened

LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times GMT)

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By Aimee Lewis

1254: Time for us to all go and sit in a dark room for a short while after that nail-bitting semi-final. You've got under 24 hours to recuperate before British number one Andy Murray appears on Rod Laver Arena to take on world number one Novak Djokovic. Coverage of that match will begin on BBC2 at 0830GMT and there will be live text commentary and radio coverage on this website to keep you company too. Friday's order of play has been released so why not take a peek. Finally, thanks for your contributions.

Twitter
Dilch on Twitter: "I say it all the time, Federer cannot beat Nadal in a Grand Slam, Nadal grew up learning how to beat Fed, he's in his head."

Twitter
Benjamin Greenhalgh on Twitter: "Wow. Rafa is just incredible... but you have to give massive credit to Roger. Best tennis rivalry of all time."

Twitter
Alexi Hastings on Twitter: "Minor setback. Federer to win Wimbledon 2012..."

1235: So that's an 18th victory for Nadal over his old foe Federer and the Spaniard, bidding to secure an 11th major title, has now booked a place in his fourth consecutive Grand Slam final. Rafa sums it up nicely during the on-court interview by describing the contest as "another fantastic match." The modest Mallorcan wishes his defeated opponent the best before thanking the fans for their support. "Two Sundays ago I really couldn't imagine being in the final. It's a dream to be here," he says.

Twitter
Matthew Vernon on Twitter: "Incredible. Just incredible. They're not from this dimension those two..."

Twitter
Shohidur Rahman on Twitter: "This defeat will hurt Federer massively because of how well he has played in this tournament. Can't see him winning a slam again."

Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 4-6 Nadal
A delicate drop shot ensures Federer hangs in there for 15-15, but the 30-year-old's forehand drifts long... Nadal as wayward with a forehand on the next point, though, so we're 30-30... Federer's backhand return is long and we are at match point. Nadal composes himself, taking his time before launching down a serve - just to add to the tension - and his attempted angled crosscourt winner goes wide! Nadal scuffs a couple of shots to gift Federer two break-back points , but drags his nemesis back to deuce on both occasions. That's as close as Fed will get, though, as the Spaniard decides to bring a wonderful match to a conclusion.
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The match is over
RAFAEL NADAL BEATS ROGER FEDERER 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 4-6 TO REACH AUSTRALIAN OPEN FINAL

Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 4-5 *Nadal
Nadal's forehand is helping him scatter winners around the court like confetti as he drives down the line for 30-30. A baseline slug-fest comes to an abrupt end when a Fed backhand can only find the net - and we're at break point. Federer is advancing to the net whenever he's in trouble and it temporarily does the trick as he forces the game to deuce. A second break point for Nadal thanks to a mesmerizing running crosscourt winner - and he grabs his chance as Federer's backhand sails into the tramlines. Is this it?
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 4-4 Nadal
Federer forces Nadal to advance to the net with a delicate chip and the Spaniard's angled reply is agonisingly wide. Gasps of admiration from the spectators, while the Nadal camp raise their heads in despair. Federer shows he's got plenty left in his bag of tricks as a deft crosscourt volley leaves Nadal flummoxed for 15-30. The game nervously shuffles to deuce and Federer earns break point by bravely dancing to the net. The third seed's swinging forehand is wide by the slenderest of margins, though, and after that Uncle Toni takes a sip of water to calm his nerves. No need for nerves from the Spanish corner as Nadal's forehand goes into overdrive and we're level again.
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Twitter
Ste Barnett on Twitter: "Nadal's green t-shirt is very apt, he is Federer's kryptonite!"

Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 4-3 *Nadal
Federer effortlessly progresses to 30-0, a wayward Nadal forehand takes us to 40-0 but Federer opts for a serve volley and comes unstuck. That moment of folly matters little as he heads for the changeover with a comfortable hold to his name.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 3-3 Nadal
Federer once again runs to the net, but Nadal has enough top spin on his forehand to make sure the ball drops in just before the line. The Mallorcan ends that game with an ace and the focus is back on Fed.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 3-2 *Nadal
Nadal has his prey in sight and grabs two break points. Federer thwarts his predator twice, though, by advancing to the net and then wriggles free thanks to an ace and a Nadal error. I've watched enough David Attenborough programmes, though, to know that the predator always comes back for the kill.
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Twitter
Colin Michael Bell on Twitter: "I worry for Fed here, whenever you think he has a sniff it is snatched away by Nad. Fair play to the Spaniard but come on Roger!"

*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 2-2 Nadal
"Federer can't afford to sleepwalk his way through this match," say the 5 live crew. No chance of that as Federer snatches the first point of the game but, as ever, Nadal is matching his opponent blow for blow and, with the court's clock showing that three hours have elapsed, the Spaniard comes through for a straightforward hold.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 2-1 *Nadal
Tense stuff out there as Nadal has break point but a howitzer of a serve to the wing gets Federer out of trouble and the 30-year-old produces an ace, his 10th of the match, and calmly winds up the game by dashing to the net for a trademark charming volley.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 1-1 Nadal
Nadal races to 40-0 in a whirlwind and holds to 15 when a Federer reply narrowly lands over the baseline.
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Twitter
Richard Thorpe on Twitter: "This is stressing me out, far, far too much. Can't concentrate on work. Beautiful match. Best rivalry ever. C'mon Roger!"

Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 1-0 *Nadal
On the ropes he might be but, as you'd expect, Federer isn't giving up without a fight. He's advancing to the net with purpose and it pays dividends as the Swiss notches the first game of the fourth set.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-7 (5-7) Nadal
High-pitch screams from the fans as if they're watching some horror show, but this is no horror show, this is tennis at its best, as Nadal comes out on top after an entertaining rally to earn a mini-break. Nadal zooms 5-1 ahead after a thunderous backhand pass makes Federer look as if he has cement in his white trainers and the Federer forehand falters to gift Nadal five set points. He saves one, saves two, saves three... "I wonder," says Russell Fuller in the commentary box... saves four and, oh my word, Federer levels matters with a whizzing ace. Nadal musters a sixth set point and delightfully takes his chance.
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Twitter
Josh Bowers on Twitter: "Secretly following #BBCTennis whilst at my desk. Think Muzza would have a better chance against Rafa after being worn down by Fed."

Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-6 *Nadal
An exacerbated Nadal makes forlorn gestures towards his camp, but Federer is struggling, too, as he nets what should have been a straightforward forehand for 30-30. First serve misses... second serve is good but again Federer can only find the net and it's SET POINT! (I think that deserves capitals, bold and an exclamation mark - I've thrown the lot at it.) As does Federer, it seems, who floats to the air to put away a forehand into the corner. And with the coolness of a man playing a practice match, Fed holds to take us to another tie-break. Hold on, folks. We can get through this together.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 5-6 Nadal
Sublime, just sublime. A Federer forehand down the line moves him to 15-30, Nadal matches Federer for panache though with a gorgeous winner into the corner, which leaves Federer chasing shadows. Everyone's favourite Spaniard (possibly/probably) comes through unscathed as Federer lets a half chance slip.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 5-5 *Nadal
"There's plenty of signs to show that Nadal is getting into Federer's head," says 5 live commentator Russell Fuller. The Swiss, though, brushes aside a wayward strand of made before advancing to the net to swat away a shoulder-high volley and it's a simple hold.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 4-5 Nadal
If Djokovic's quarter-final against Ferrer had more sub plots than a double episode of Coronation Street then this match is as unpredictable as a Christmas special Poirot [insert detective show of choice]. Federer has Nadal worried at 30-15, but he gives the second seed some breathing space when a net cord bounces back into the Swiss' side and a serve down the middle completes the hold.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 4-4 *Nadal
It's difficult to believe that this is merely a warm-up to Sunday's final, but oh what a warm up it is. Nadal, grizzling, snarling, scowling, ekes two break points and the intensity of the Spaniard's groundstrokes forces Federer to feebly hit a reply into the net and we're back on serve. Blimey.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 4-3 Nadal
Nadal hits a forehand wide and it's break point Federer. I'm not sure how much more of this my nerves can take. Nadal saves! The Spaniard takes his time before launching a venomous spinning serve out to Federer's backhand. Two more break points are snuffled thanks to an ace and a Federer backhand into the tape, but the man from Mallorca can do little to prevent Federer gaining a fourth break point, which the four-time Aussie champion takes with a fabulous backhand down the line. Federer raises his fist in delight and there's huge cheers from the crowd.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 3-3 *Nadal
Neither player giving his opponent much chance on serve, although as I type that Federer double faults. Nadal's whizzing forehand then clips the net cord and Federer's attempted smash sails into orbit. I think that ball is still rising into the night sky. Mind your heads, wherever you are! The masterful Swiss fends off Nadal, though, to hold.
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Twitter
Rosie Goates on Twitter: "Finding it hard to believe this is not the final.....hoping for 5 sets and a Federer victory"

*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 2-3 Nadal
It must surely only be a matter of time before there's another twist in this third set, but it won't be on Nadal's serve as the 25-year-old takes that game to 15.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 2-2 *Nadal
Both men intent on completing their service games as quickly as possible as Federer closes matters with two aces and a nasty serve into the body, which Nadal can only bat away into the tramlines.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 1-2 Nadal
It's easy peasy for Nadal as he holds to quickly put the pressure back on his rival.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 1-1 *Nadal
Federer, having lost three of the last four service games, adds two double faults to his repetoir and finds himself having to fend off three break points . Nerves of steel, though, from the Swiss as he saves all three. "If Roger can get out of this and regroup and hit a bit more cleanly then he can stay with Rafa for a while and rebuild," says Pat Cash. Plenty of errors from both men - 31 so far from Federer's usually faultless racquet. A fortunate net cord sees him to advantage and Federer's home and dry when he forces Nadal to the net, with the Spaniard's attempted volley failing to clear the tape.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 0-1 Nadal
"It's mind-boggling some of the tennis that they play, " says Pat Cash of Federer in the 5 live commentary box. Mind-boggling, I like it. You can listen to the commentary online, by the way. Nadal is the one who is pulling the strings now, sending Federer to and fro and he finishes the game to love with an ace and a whizzing crosscourt winner to the corner.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 *Nadal
Federer has to refocus after the interlude to serve to stay in this set and he struggles to do so as another wonderful passing shot earns Nadal three break points. Fed did not get a first serve on target during that game and it proved costly as Nadal grabed his chance to level the match.
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Twitter
Tony Japaul on Twitter: "As always the battles between these two you should always expect the unexpected. Wow! Nadal came back! Fantastic!"

1025: Surely there's enough room in our lives for fireworks and tennis. The players take a 10-minute break to make way for the pyrotechnics taking place at the moment in celebration of Australia Day. In the meantime, don't forget you can get involved. Tweet me @aimee_lou_lewis using the hashtag #BBCTennis or text in on 81111 (UK).

Twitter
David Dawber on Twitter: "Anyone else find this fireworks display unnecessary? Interrupting the tennis for this."

Twitter
Jake Bateson on Twitter: "I'm sensing a shifting of balance towards Nadal now - No one can stop Nadal when he's playing like this!"

*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-5 Nadal
Nadal is muttering to himself, urging himself on. He recovers to 40-30 and a menacing serve out wide forces Federer to return long and he's within a game of bringing this set to a conclusion. And as the pair purposefully walk to their seats, fireworks light up the Melbourne skies. Ah.... lovely.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-4 *Nadal
Federer is unable to scoop the ball from his shoelaces and it's 0-30 to the Spaniard, then a moment of brilliance from Nadal earns him three break points. The Nadal camp are on their feet after their man, running at breakneck speed, conjures a spectacular crosscourt winner. The pressure is on Federer... Nadal ends a nervy rally by hitting wide... then he hollers "Vamos!" as he secures the break with a passing shot down the line, which skims beyond a stranded Federer.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-3 Nadal
Both players were relishing competing in this match, with Nadal admitting he would have to be "aggressive" to beat his long-time rival. "It will be very, very difficult match for me," he said. He neglected to mention that it would be a tricky one for Federer too. Neither player can get a stranglehold of this set. A patient Federer forces Nadal to hit long for break point, but he wastes his chance by sending a looping a forehand over the baseline and danger is averted for the second seed.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 2-2 *Nadal
Federer, unflinching and floating around the court, pings a wristy forehand winner into the corner to put Nadal on the back foot and goes on to hold to love.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 1-2 Nadal
Brutal groundstrokes from the baseline from both, with Nadal's attempt to intimidate at the net succeeding as Federer nets. And the Spaniard eventually fends off his opponent to edge ahead in the second set.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) 1-1 *Nadal
Hang on, more twist and turns as Nadal conjures three break points and the scowling Spaniard's riposte is immediate and we're back on serve.
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*Federer 7-6 (7-5) 1-0 Nadal
Both players with impressive serving stats in that opening set (Fed finding the target with 71% of serves, while Nadal's stats are at an impressive 79%). Federer hit 15 winners, five more than his opponent, but also made 15 unforced errors from his racquet (four more than Nadal). And in the time it took me to write you those stats, Federer made a blistering start, earning three break points. And he ruthlessly takes his chance.
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Federer 7-6 (7-5) *Nadal
First blow to Federer as Nadal hits a lazy forehand into the tramlines and the Swiss master races 4-1 ahead. I probably don't need to remind you that Nadal leads Federer 17-9 in head-to-heads. Federer won their most recent encounter - a straight sets victory at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, although the Spaniard was rather poorly back then. The Swiss continues where he left off at the 02, though, engineering three set points with a deep volley and a charming half volley. Nadal saves one... he saves two... but the Spaniard then hits long and can do little to stop the Federer juggernaut from securing the first set
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Twitter
Femi Longe on Twitter: " I am a Nadal fan, but I worry each time he pays Federer on hard courts. I expect a war of attrition; I hope Nadal wins. Vamos!"

*Federer 6-6 Nadal
Whistles of appreciation from the transfixed supporters as an acrobatic Federer somehow manages to get a volley over the net only for Nadal to trump his opponent with a sizzling winner. That's what we all want to see! The Spaniard holds to 15 and, after 46 minutes of enthralling tennis, we're in a tie-break.
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Federer 6-5 *Nadal
Pow! Federer opens with an ace. An aggressive Federer then advances to the net, gets a diving volley over to the other end, which a scampering Nadal can only direct to the net. And he winds up a classy game with an irretrievable backhand volley. No point in Nadal running after that one.
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*Federer 5-5 Nadal
Nadal nicely coming to the boil after taking a while to warm up. Federer hits a couple of backhands long and Nadal, once again, holds to love when Federer can only find the net.
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Federer 5-4 *Nadal
The Fed serve is on song though as he, too, holds to love and both players slowly walk to their chairs to prepare for the first-set fireworks.
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*Federer 4-4 Nadal
"He's just gone off the boil a little bit," say our 5 live friends and the Swiss is making considerably more errors, gifting Nadal a trouble-free service game to love.
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Twitter
Nathan Gbedemah on Twitter: "YEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! Dind't see that coming but I always believed in it. Vamos Nadal! "

Federer 4-3 *Nadal
The majestic Swiss tries to mix it up by coming to the net but he plonks the volley into the net, setting a few nerves a jangling at 30-30. Second serve... and he misses with a forehand. Break point Nadal! The camera focuses on Federer's wife, Mirka, and she looks perplexed, and rightly so as Nadal negates Federer's earlier break with a wonderful passing shot. We could be in for a long one.
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*Federer 4-2 Nadal
Nadal thinks he's hit a winner into the corner but somehow Federer scurries to retrieve the ball and hits it back from whence it came for a jaw-dropping winner down the line. The second seed, needing just one point to hold, then dashes to the net only to have to scamper back to the baseline to retrieve a Federer lob, which he can only return to the net. The Spaniard, however, completes the game with a nice little ace. Worry? Me? Nah, I'm Rafa Nadal, he says. Or something like that.
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Twitter
Yousuf Kerr on Twitter: "Come on ROGER!!!! The greatest tennis player ever.... at least until you get to the final and play murray.. "

Federer 4-1 *Nadal
You can listen to this match live on this website and, according to the 5 live team in Melbourne, it's a cool evening down under, which bodes well for the tennis. Federer illuminates that game with a stunning winner down the line and he mops up proceedings with a trademark crosscourt winner. The Swiss, matching Nadal blow for blow from the baseline, looking irrepressible at the moment.
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Twitter
Stelios Contogoulas on Twitter: "Nadal/Fed easily always the most exciting matches. People talk about being at Woodstock, i talk about the 2008 Wimbledon final. "

*Federer 3-1 Nadal
Nadal is making plenty of unforced errors out there, which is giving Federer a sniff at the Spaniard's serve. A Federer backhand into the tramlines, though, awards Nadal is first game of the match.
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Federer 3-0 *Nadal
A deceptive drop shot sees the 16-time champ ease to 30-0 and even though Nadal tries to work his opponent left to right it's Nadal who makes the error by hitting long. Nadal somehow manages to wrap his wrist around the raqcuet for a beautiful return, but a volley from the Spaniard then hits the net and Federer is looking comfortable.
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*Federer 2-0 Nadal
Second seed Nadal, wearing his glow-in-the-dark green t-shirt, baggy white shorts and a royal blue bandana, doesn't make as comfortable a start as his nemesis, with the third seed getting his nose ahead at 15-30 but the Mallorcan is as tigerish as ever, the game moves to deuce but Federer whips a crosscourt winner for break point and takes clinically stepping in for a fabulous backhand winner. Wowzers
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Federer 1-0 *Nadal
Nadal makes Federer wait before gamboling to the baseline to line-up for some Federer bullets. An ace follows a thunderous forehand and the Swiss makes a perfect start, holding to love.
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0842: The gladiators have walked out to their arena to a rousing reception from their adoring public and they're currently warming up out there. All that is left for you to do is get involved with your predictions and general chat. Tweet me @aimee_lou_lewis using the hashtag #BBCTennis or text in on 81111 (UK).

0835: The last time these tennis superstars fronted-up in Melbourne was three years ago. That was the year everything Rafa touched turned to gold and Roger spent a lot of time crying. The Swiss could do little but weep and whimper "God, it's killing me" as Nadal took his Australian Open crown after a dramatic five-set victory. Who will be leaving Rod Laver Arena despondent today?

0832: Good morning! The greatest rivalry of a generation continues in Melbourne, a duel which has stretched to 26 matches and eight Grand Slam finals and left us with many fond memories. It's always a special occasion when two of the world's finest tennis players meet and this semi-final, I'm sure, will be no exception. There's a strong stench of aftershave in the office this morning, which must mean my gentlemen colleagues expect Rafa and Roger to conjure another memorable moment in tennis history. If you could do me a quick favour and manually refresh that would be grand.

0830: Happy Australia Day! Yes, our antipodean cousins are commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 (thank you, Wikipedia) and what better way for us to celebrate their national day than to maybe listen to our favourite Stefan Denis song. (I think there's a back catalogue of two.) Oh, and we could maybe join Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in Melbourne.

By Mike Henson

It's bad news for a Briton
It's good news for a Briton
0802: I'm going to leave you be for now then, but let me just sign off by filling you in with how the remaining Brits away from the main draws have got on in their matches today. In the boy's singles both Josh Ward-Hibbert and Kyle Edmund came unstuck at the quarter-final stage, but Ward-Hibbert and Liam Broady are through to the final of the doubles after beating the Australian fourth seeds. There was more success in the quad doubles wheelchair where Andy Lapthorne and Peter Norfolk beat Noam Gershony of Israel and David Wagner of the USA 6-4 6-2 to retain their title. Bye for now.

0752: That is far from all for today though. The small matter of Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal in the men's semi-final awaits. That begins at 0830 GMT on these very pages with Aimee Lewis as your guide.

0745: Two superb semi-finals then and, as many of you are pointing out, it could be a final to watch on mute when Victoria Azarenka takes on Maria Sharapova on Saturday at 0830 GMT. On the line will be the women's world number one spot, the Australian Open title and noise nuisance of the month (Melbourne area). But if the entertainment is as good as it was in those two matches, then a little grunting is a small price to pay.

Twitter
Tony Japaul on Twitter: "Cmon Maria!!! Revenge is complete! That tasted sweet, both played great tennis. 2 great semi finals, now hoping Maria wins on Saturday"

Maria Sharapova: "I felt in the third that she had the advantage as I was always down on my serve, 0-15 15-30, but I told myself that I just had to hit out and play my game."

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova 6-2 3-6 6-4 Kvitova
It is Kvitova who blinks first and that is all it needs for the match to slide away from her. She suddenly looks shaky as a double fault and a rushed forehand give Sharapova 15-30. The Czech fizzes into the net and Sharapova, having been on defensive for pretty much the whole of this decider, has two match points. The end comes as Kvitova floats long. It might have been worth a challenge, but judging from Sharapova's scream of delight, and I don't think it was kidology, it would have been in vain. Either way Kvitova takes her medicine without questioning it and hot-foots it off court while Sharapova laps up the acclaim.

The match is over
MARIA SHARAPOVA BEATS PETRA KVITOVA 6-2 3-6 6-4 TO MAKE THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN FINAL

Hawkeye
Sharapova 6-2 3-6 5-4 Kvitova*
Kvitova is piling on the pressure again as she sledgehammers her way to 0-30. And then a massive call, a huge, possibly match-deciding Hawk Eye review after a Sharapova forehand was called long. The video review shows it had shaved the white wash. The point is replayed and goes Sharapova's way. As do the next three. As I say, a big call and if she wins this Sharapova will thank the technology gods that she is playing in the 21st century.
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*Sharapova 6-2 3-6 4-4 Kvitova
After losing the first point of the game, Kvitova crunches through the gears and burns off Sharapova. Solid stuff from a player who was regularly creaking at the clutch points before that first Grand Slam win last summer.
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Hawkeye
Sharapova 6-2 3-6 4-3 Kvitova*
A clever forehand cut across court that barely clears the tape gives Kvitova 15-30. Another double from Sharapova, that Hawk Eye can't help her out with, gives Kvitova two break points. Sharapova recovers them both with Kvitova looking strangely reluctant to hit out during the rallies. But the serve is giving Sharapova plenty of problems. Three times she is within a point of winning the game, but a double fault followed by two massive returns deny her. She eventually creeps over the line at the fourth time of asking. How many more times can Sharapova cling on to her serve? And how many times can Kvitova afford to let her off the hook?
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*Sharapova 6-2 3-6 3-3 Kvitova
A second serve right on the line at 30-15 precedes some baseline jousting and a rather fortunate framed drop shot from Kvitova that throws her opponent entirely. Sharapova fires wide on the next point and that is job done for the Czech.
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Sharapova 6-2 3-6 3-2 Kvitova*
What a right old ding-dong this is turning into. Sharapova hits a backhand winner to bring up 30-15, before Kvitova blasts back with a superb forehand angle. That dreaded double fault rears its ugly head once more as Sharapova hands her opponent break point. Twenty shots fly back and forth before Kvitova summons up the guts to go for a winner. It is wide this time, but she is crawling all over the Sharapova serve and forces another straight away. Again Sharapova faces her down and Kvitova, perhaps waiting for a baseline call that never comes, mishits a forehand long as Sharapova makes it through the game unscathed. Just.
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Maria Sharapova
*Sharapova 6-2 3-6 2-2 Kvitova
Kvitova clouts long to give Sharapova 15-30 and the Czech's serve falters to plant her second serve wide via the net cord on the next point. Sharapova has break point and she doesn't have to do much to turn it into parity on the scoreboard as Kvitova ends a dismal game for herself by over-cooking another ground stroke.
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Petra Kvitova
Sharapova 6-2 3-6 1-2 Kvitova*
Kvitova has Sharapova on the run at 15-30, but is a little too cute with what should be her winning shot as he hits straight at the Russian rather than the wide-open court. Sharapova's seventh double of the match hands her a break point though and Kvitova seizes it with a bellow of triumph. Let's see what the 2008 champion is made of now then...
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*Sharapova 6-2 3-6 1-1 Kvitova
Kvitova's effortlessly powerful serve cleaves the apex of the service box to close with her fourth ace of the match and while she is teeing off like this, and her return is still looking a threat, she is favourite to take this match.
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Sharapova 6-2 3-6 1-0 Kvitova*
Kvitova's radar is a little askew as she nudges long on a forehand return and then drifts wide to give Sharapova 40-15. A slug-fest from the baseline follows in the next rally and the longer it goes on, the more Kvitova's power gives her the upper hand. A forehand speared down the line from the Czech gives her the point after Sharapova has been dragged out of position but that is as close as she is going to get to a break.
* denotes NEXT to serve

*Sharapova 6-2 3-6 Kvitova
Nerveless from Kvitova as he serves out to love. The final point is seized with an arcing second-serve ace that screams into the backboards. The Czech served out to love to claim her Wimbledon title last summer as well. If it comes down to a battle of nerves, this could be a final set of Isner-Mahut proportions.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Sharapova 6-2 3-5 Kvitova*
Both players seem to be conserving their energies for a big battle in the next game as Sharapova holds to love with Kvitova seemingly unconcerned by her opponent's easy progress through the points.
* denotes NEXT to serve

*Sharapova 6-2 2-5 Kvitova
Kvitova shows no signs of flaking as she enters the home straight of this second set. The winners keep coming as she holds her serve comfortably.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Sharapova 6-2 2-4 Kvitova*
A particularly brutal forehand down the line gives Kvitova 30-30 before she wraps her raquet around the same shot and hooks an exquisite cross-court winner that catches Sharapova by surprise. Break point. Sharapova gathers herself and digs herself out of trouble for the second game running though with a precisely plotted forehand winner.
* denotes NEXT to serve

*Sharapova 6-2 1-4 Kvitova
Sharapova is feeding the Kvitova forehand and the left-hander is spitting back a stream of winners in response. Kvitova shows some fine improvisation skill as well as she knocks back an overhead with her back to the net, briefly looking like on over-enthusiastic pancake-tosser, en route to the winning the final point.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Sharapova 6-2 1-3 Kvitova*
Kvitova's walloping return has Sharapova's serve in constant danger and a vicious forehand swipe gives the Wimbledon champ 30-40 and a break point. Sharapova sees that one off though and unleashes some venom of her own to close the door.
* denotes NEXT to serve

*Sharapova 6-2 0-3 Kvitova
Sharapova has come off the boil since the first set and Kvitova is making hay as some thumping blows from the back of the court move her three games clear. Can't help but feel that Sharapova, famed for her focus, will be back bubbling soon though.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Petra Kvitova
Sharapova 6-2 0-2 Kvitova*
Kvitova belts the fuzz off the ball as one return pings past Sharapova before she has time to look up from her service motion. There is also a double fault in there from the Russian as he gives her opponent three break points. Sharapova has escaped from 0-40 down in the first set and comes close to repeating the trick before she double faults again at 30-40. Cue bemused looks up at her coach in the players' box.
* denotes NEXT to serve

*Sharapova 6-2 0-1 Kvitova
Kvitova makes another strong start to the set. One Sharapova return lands sharply on her toes, but the rest are given the full treatment as she sweeps up the first game.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Twitter
Michael Weaver on Twitter: "Let's hope Kvitova beats Sharapova or the final shall have to be watched with the sound muted."

Sharapova 6-2 Kvitova*
The Sharapova serve goes missing just when it is required, a double fault brings up 0-30 and Kvitova slams back a smart return to give herself three break points. Sharapova has a little word with herself at the back of the court and whatever was in that internal monologue seems to have done the trick. Four successive points put her on the brink of sealing the first set. She shuttles back and forth between deuce and her own advantage but caps the set with a serve right down the 'T' which Kvitova can only get some frame on.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Maria Sharapova
*Sharapova 5-2 Kvitova
Lovely stuff from Sharapova who follows the deepest forehand with a sly slice backhand that Kvitova cannot chisel off the floor. That is three from three in the break-point conversion column for Sharapova and she will serve for the first set next.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Sharapova 4-2 Kvitova*
Big, strong baseline hitting from both players, but it is Sharapova who is applying the nous to muscle and she wrong-foots Kvitova before forcing the Czech wide to hold.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Sharapova 4-2 Kvitova*
Big, strong baseline hitting from both players, but it is Sharapova who is applying the nous to muscle and she wrong-foots Kvitova before forcing the Czech wide to hold.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Someone is having a tantrum
Maria Sharapova
*Sharapova 3-2 Kvitova
Kvitova mixes it up with some short stuff and might not try that again as Sharapova races forward to wrap a winner around her. Kvitova's serve is under sustained attack from Sharapova and after a fierce return brings up deuce, the Czech double faults attempting to put a bit of pace on to keep her second serve safe. Sharapova converts the break point and that is the third successive game against the head at the start of this match. Kvitova's raquet feels the force of her frustration as she heads back to her chair.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Petra Kvitova
Sharapova 2-2 Kvitova*
Both players are struggling with their tee-off and a double fault from Sharapova gives Kvitova 30-40 and a chance to bite back straight away. A shonky second serve puts the Russian on the back foot as Kvitova climbs into the return and Sharapova nets to bring the scores level.
* denotes NEXT to serve

The sun is out
Maria Sharapova
*Sharapova 2-1 Kvitova
A horrible, horrible overhead miss from Kvitova as she skews a smash between the tramlines to concede the break of serve. Sharapova looks to be in the groove with a smooth forehand setting up the chance at 15-40, but the sun is also playing a part. Kvitova looks to be struggling off her serve because the big yellow fella is getting in her eyes.

Sharapova 1-1 Kvitova*
The Russian fourth seed responds almost in kind with only a double fault ruining her run to a love game of her own.

*Sharapova 0-1 Kvitova
A big start from Petra Kvitova who imposes her serve-volley style on Sharapova straight from the off. A hold to love is complete as a kicker of a serve skids out wide and Sharapova scrapes back a return that drifts well wide.

0508: The crowd were generous in their applause for the winner but as they rise to their feet, most of the noise is gratitude for everything 'Aussie Kim' has done during her campaigns in Melbourne. The result means that the winner of Saturday's final will be the new world number one. Which brings us neatly onto Maria Sharapova v Petra Kvitova in the other semi.

Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka: "I felt like my hand was like 200kg and my body was a 1000kg. Everything was shaking. But that feeling when it is over was unbelievable, I just want to cry. Kim really took over the second set but I tried to regroup and keep going for my shots. I was really proud about the way I fought for every ball."

Azarenka 6-4 1-6 6-3 Clijsters
Azarenka rattles through to 40-0. There is a brief attack of the serving yips as she squanders the first of three break points, but Clijsters creams a backhand wide on the next point to bring tears to her victorious opponent's eyes.

The match is over
VICTORIA AZARENKA BEATS KIM CLIJSTERS 6-4 1-6 6-3 TO MAKE AUSTRALIAN OPEN FINAL

Victoria Azarenka
*Azarenka 6-4 1-6 5-3 Clijsters
Clijsters has been streaky than a side of bacon all day and her errors, combined with some admirable mental strength from Azarenka, brings up 0-40 and three break points. Clijsters claws back two of them, but then misses with her first serve and Azarenka advances to slap away a volley and ensure there is no escape.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Kim Clijsters
Azarenka 6-4 1-6 4-3 Clijsters*
Breathless, enthralling stuff. Azarenka racks up 40-0 in the blink of an eye, but Clijsters pulls herself off the floor as she throws caution to the wind with two devil-may-care winners. The crowd cheer a little unsportingly as the Belarussian nets on the next rally. Suddenly it is chokingly tense in the Rod Laver Arena and even the usually unflappable Clijsters flops her arms with frustration as Azarenka batters her way to advantage. Relief all round as Clijsters pulls it back to deuce but Azarenka is picking her shots well and some slice and dice at the net put her within reach once more. Clijsters hits a forehand as she runs full pelt across the back of the court before Azarenka smears a volley wide to cede break point. The net ripples on the Belarus side in the next rally, Clijsters' fist pumps and this one is back on serve. Hold onto your hats.
* denotes NEXT to serve

*Azarenka 6-4 1-6 4-2 Clijsters
Clijsters seems to have stopped the rot as she holds to love, but she will need to do more than that now. The Belgian must overhaul one of Azarenka's next two service games to stay in the tournament. /b>
* denotes NEXT to serve

Azarenka 6-4 1-6 4-1 Clijsters*
Clijsters is suddenly struggling to find the middle of her strings and a trio of shanked shots give Azarenka the game to 15. The promised land of a first Grand Slam final is within sight for Azarenka./b>
* denotes NEXT to serve

Victoria Azarenka
*Azarenka 6-4 1-6 3-1 Clijsters
The crowd are getting caught up in this see-sawing decider and there is a loud groan around Rod Laver Arena as their definite favourite Clijsters sees her drop shot fade into the top of the net to give Azarenka 15-30. The Belgian is stretched beyond breaking point in the next rally to give Azarenka two break points. Cheers cascade down from the stands as Clijsters saves the second and again as wonderful stop volley puts her within a point of the game. But Clijsters is still misfiring and she double faults to hand Azarenka the impetus in this set on a third break point./b>
* denotes NEXT to serve

Kim Clijsters
Azarenka 6-4 1-6 2-1 Clijsters*
Anything you can do... Clijsters has three break points of her own as Azarenka looks fidgity on her own serve. The Belgian twangs the tape on the first and Azarenka edges back to 30-40, but the world number three then pushes long to hand the break straight back.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Victoria Azarenka
*Azarenka 6-4 1-6 2-0 Clijsters
What's this then? Azarenka seems a new woman in this game as she rips into her returns, bludgeoning back anything vaguely short from Clijsters. She gathers three break points and takes the first in a whistlestop game.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Azarenka 6-4 1-6 1-0 Clijsters*
Could that be crucial? Azarenka drops a double fault to heap the pressure on herself at 30-30 and Clijsters keeps knocking on the door with relentless groundstrokes in the next rally. The mistake from Azarenka eventually arrives as a backhand worms it way into the net to give Clijsters a chance to break at the first opportunity in the second set. But Azarenka dredges up some steel from somewhere though, knuckles down and sees off the danger and hold.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Latest scores
Kim Clijsters
*Azarenka 6-4 1-6 Clijsters
Clijsters is on a fearsome roll right now though and she clambers straight past Azarenka to pull level on the scoreboard with a hold to love. Azarenka needs to find a tactical masterstroke in the depths of her kitbag during the changeover to switch the momentum.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Azarenka 6-4 1-5 Clijsters*
Clijsters found Azarenka's pace and spin difficult to pick up in the first set, but she is reading the Belarussian far easier now, hitting a string of winners on her way to deuce. Azarenka clings on though and a dinky drop shot and some mental resolve keep her hanging in the set by the skin of her teeth.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Twitter
David Scott on Twitter: "Can't pick a winner here! Clijsters in 3 if I had to guess. Awesome tennis though!"

*Azarenka 6-4 0-5 Clijsters
A wham-bam service hold to love by Clijsters and Azarenka is listing badly with some limp groundstrokes. Her camp will hope that she is conserving some energy for a third set, or else she would seem to have gone walkabout upstairs.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Kim Clijsters
Azarenka 6-4 0-4 Clijsters*
Azarenka's second double gives Clijsters a hint of a chance at 30-30 before the Belarussian gleefully smashes away a pair of forehand volley to find some stability. It does not last long though. A wayward forehand gives Clijsters a break point from deuce, but Azarenka keeps it simple, slapping back hard and straight to lure the error, as she slips off the hook. Clijsters senses that there is a less-than-happy bunny down the opposite end and keeps up the hunt with a backhand down the line and a series of tasty forehands to bring up a second break point. Azarenka duly buries the ball into the net as she folds and that may be her chances of a straight-sets win gone.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Twitter
Abbey on Twitter: "Top match there. Fancy Kim to be through in 3 sets!!"

*Azarenka 6-4 0-3 Clijsters
The wheels haven't quite come off the Azarenka wagon, but there is an ominous rattle from somewhere down below. Mistakes are peppering her once-flawless game, the worst being a smash that begs to be put away for 30-40 but instead lands somewhere near the ball-boy's toes at the back of the court. Another groundstroke pumps long to give Clijsters, who has all the big-match experience and know-how on her side, the game.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Kim Clijsters
Azarenka 6-4 0-2 Clijsters*
The players trade blows and Azarenka is twice tempted to take the initiative with attempted winners. Twice she is marginally off target though and suddenly Clijsters has three break points from nowhere. The game heads down the swanny for Azarenka as she plants into the net.
* denotes NEXT to serve

*Azarenka 6-4 0-1 Clijsters
Azarenka looks like she could turn the screw at 30-30, but an ill-advised rush to the net is punished by Clijsters' hammered forehand winner to ease the pressure.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Twitter
Text in your views on 81111
0337: Get noisy like Azarenka by tweeting me @mikehensonbbc using the hashtag #BBCTennis or pop over a text on 81111 (UK).

Latest scores
Azarenka 6-4 Clijsters*
Azarenka greets every point with a clench and a scream of self-congratulation which, added to the grunting, makes for a noisy game. There is nothing to complain about about the Belarussian's hitting though which is remorsely consistent and canny as she seals the opener.
* denotes NEXT to serve

*Azarenka 5-4 Clijsters
Gritty stuff from Kim to force her opponent to serve for the set. Clijsters cruises into a 40-0 lead but her groundstrokes lack a bit of devil and direction to go with the power in the next two rallies. She bashes away mindlessly en route to losing the next two points before a double fault give Azarenka deuce. A serve right to the back of the service box give Clijsters a short ball to get stuck into with a forehand winner, but she is picked off at the net by a dipping Azarenka pass on her next foray forward. A first break point to Azarenka ends with her smacking chance to win the set long, she has another straight away via a Clijsters' double fault. Kim hits out again to survive and, after Azarenka has planted a great volley chance straight back at her, takes the game.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Get involved on 606
Azarenka 5-3 Clijsters*
Hawk Eye proves Azarenka wrong as she asks for a review of one of her shots out wide and Clijsters nibbles back to 30-15. The Belarussian is putting some craft into these points now though and drags Clijsters this way and that as she creeps forward to lock up another game.
* denotes NEXT to serve

*Azarenka 4-3 Clijsters
Clijsters cranks up the power and blasts her way to the game for the loss of two points after initially looking a little vulnerable to a second break. If she keeps that aggression and gets Azarenka scampering this set could yet have a twist to it.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Azarenka 4-2 Clijsters*
Azarenka risks the wrath of the Rod Laver crowd as she asks the umpire to get on the mic and request silence during rallies. A little offended murmur goes round before Clijsters dusts an angled backhand to bring up 40-30 and apply a bit more pressure. But Azarenka has seemed pretty unperturbed by everything about this ocassion so far and takes the next point as Clijsters whips into the net.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Argentina
*Azarenka 3-2 Clijsters
Clijsters is the more capable of the pair when it comes to hitting flat-out, clean winners and Azarenka fails to lay any leather on a thumped forehand that wraps up the game. Most of the crowd were distracted by some swooping aero acrobatics as six planes mark Australia Day with a dramatic fly-past of Melbourne Park.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Azarenka 3-1 Clijsters*
Azarenka looks to be dictating the pace, but a pair of missed forehands, one into the tape the other a smidge over-cooked, gives Clijsters two break-back points. Solid serving off both from the world number three brings up deuce. Clijsters gets a little timid on a third break point, but swings powerfully into Azarenka's forehand to force a fourth. Azarenka recovers that one with a drop shot that has more disguise than Moriarty and more chop than Ainsley Harriot and edges her way home over the next two points.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Victoria Azarenka
*Azarenka 2-1 Clijsters
Clijsters offers up two break points as she sprays wide attempting to force the issue. The four-time Grand Slam winner recovers one with a stroked forehand, but Azarenka wellies a return back past Clijsters off a weak second serve and has the break.
* denotes NEXT to serve

Azarenka 1-1 Clijsters*
Azarenka rattles through the first three points, but a lovely, soft drop from Clijsters shows she can trouble the Belarussian with touch as well as power. Clijsters punts long down the line on the next point, when she should perhaps have done better though.
* denotes NEXT to serve

*Azarenka 0-1 Clijsters
Azarenka has been getting a bit of a hard time from the home crowd for her grunting, the Melbourne Park masses joining in with her on some of the rallies. She seems a little muted in the opening game and maybe needs to up the volume after an assertive first game from Clijsters. The Belgian lands with all six first serves and is hitting free and easy as he pounds through the game.
* denotes NEXT to serve

0242: Azarenka has been in mighty form so far in the tournament, but will need to win her first Grand Slam final if she is to take top spot in the rankings. Play is about to begin, Clijsters to serve.

The sun is out
Kim Clijsters
0239: The players are out on court already and it is another beaut of a day down under. While we are waiting to get going, why not have a read of a cracking interview Clijsters gave to the Guardian earlier this year detailing the influence her late father Lei still has on her career and life.

0235: Morning all and welcome to the first women's semi-final at the Australian Open between Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka. Clijsters is defending champion after her win over Li Na 12 months ago and would dearly love to retain the title on what is likely to be her final appearance in Melbourne. Meanwhile Azarenka has her sights set on taking Caroline Wozniacki's place at the top of the world rankings.



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see also
Tennis on the BBC
20 Dec 12 |  Tennis
Nadal beats Federer to make final
01 Feb 12 |  Tennis
Sharapova & Azarenka reach final
01 Feb 12 |  Tennis
Sharapova targets Kvitova scalp
25 Jan 12 |  Tennis
Kvitova and Sharapova go through
25 Jan 12 |  Tennis
Men's singles latest
21 May 10 |  Tennis
WTA Tour latest
21 May 10 |  Live scores
Order of play
15 Jan 12 |  Tennis
Men's draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Australian Open coverage
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis


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