Rafael Nadal stays on course for vintage final with Roger Federer at Australian Open

Frank Dalleres
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Nadal won the last of his 14 grand slam titles at the 2014 French Open (Source: Getty)

Resurgent Rafael Nadal savoured his return to the big time after reaching a first grand slam semi-final for nearly three years at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Ninth seed Nadal, 30, belied Milos Raonic’s status as the top-ranked player left in the men’s draw with a commanding 6-4, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 triumph over the Canadian.

The injury-hit former world No1 admits that failing to challenge at a major tournament since winning the last of his 14 grand slams at the 2014 French Open caused him to fear his glory days were gone.

Read more: How much can tennis stars earn at the Australian Open?

“Even when I was winning a lot I have doubts so you can imagine I have more when I am not winning and have injuries,” said Nadal.

“The good thing is when you have doubts you feel ready to work more. I had a great career but had a lot of tough moments that make me enjoy even more the good moments like today.”

The Spaniard could yet meet old rival Roger Federer in the final. A ninth grand slam title decider between the pair would be a fitting end to a tournament in which the old guard has torn up the script.

First Nadal must navigate Grigor Dimitrov, however, after the Bulgarian 15th seed defeated 11th seed David Goffin 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Federer faces 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka on Thursday morning.

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