Federer quells talk of feud with semi-final foe Nadal

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Roger Federer has dismissed suggestions his pre-tournament disagreement with Rafael Nadal will add spice to their Australian Open semi-final.

Federer and Nadal ensured a mouthwatering last-four encounter in Melbourne with wins yesterday, Federer thrashing Juan Martin Del Potro and Nadal coming through a much tougher tie against Tomas Berdych.

It will be their first meeting since a chink in their friendship appeared prior to the season’s first grand slam, with Nadal criticising the Swiss for not speaking up on issues affecting the men’s game.

The pair played it down at the time and Federer was at pains to point out there was no lingering resentment between them.

After his 6-4 6-3 6-2 win over Del Potro, he said: “It was here for one day and then gone again.

“I’m happy about that because it didn’t deserve the attention it got. For me it’s just another great match with Rafa.”

Of their 26 meetings, Nadal has won 17, yet they have only played in Melbourne once, in the 2009 final, which ended with Federer defeated in five compelling sets and in tears.

“I’d like to play Rafa because of our epic match in the final here a few years ago,” added Federer.

“I’d like to play him again.”

Federer will undoubtedly fancy his chances given his near-flawless display against Del Potro in his 1,000th tour-level match.

Nadal was made to work far harder against seventh seed Berdych before prevailing 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (8/6) 6-4 6-3 in four hours and 16 minutes.

The Czech claimed the first set on a tie-break and might have taken the second in the same manner had he not missed a relatively straightforward volley on set point.

“I was lucky,” admitted Nadal, who then pinched the set. “The second set was key to the match.”

Nadal claimed the third with two breaks and dispirited Berdych could not stem the tide in the fourth as Nadal advanced through to the last four.

“I am tired but happy with the way I resisted in the third and fourth sets after an intense battle,” said the 10-times grand slam winner.

Britain’s Andy Murray was due to face Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the early hours of this morning as he sought to join Federer and Nadal in the semi-finals.

Kim Clijsters ended Caroline Wozniacki’s chances of landing a maiden grand slam title and ensured the 22-year-old’s 67-week stint at the top of the world rankings will end next Monday.

Wozniacki’s lack of success in the majors has led to constant questioning of her status and she did little to alter that perception in a 6-3 7-6 (7/4) loss.

But having been through something similar – Clijsters’s first grand slam title arrived two years after she topped the rankings – the Belgian offered support.

She said: “People are almost blaming her for it (the system). That’s really absurd.”

Next up for Clijsters is Victoria Azarenka, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7 (0/7) 6-0 6-2.