Nadal survives Dimitrov, reaches semis at Australian Open - NBC Sports

Nadal survives Dimitrov, reaches semis at Australian Open
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January 22, 2014, 3:00 am

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Rafael Nadal avoided the top player exodus that claimed two-time defending women's champion Victoria Azarenka in the preceding match on center court for a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7), 6-2 win over Grigor Dimitrov in the Australian Open quarterfinals Wednesday.

Nadal, who received treatment several times for a nasty-looking blister on the palm of his left hand, advanced to a semifinal match against the winner of the marquee quarterfinal between Andy Murray and Roger Federer later Wednesday.

Azarenka won't have a semifinal date. No. 5-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska stopped Azarenka's 18-match winning run at Melbourne Park with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-0 win earlier in the day.

That means both defending champions went out in the quarterfinals - Novak Djokovic lost to Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday, ending his bid for a fourth consecutive men's title. Aazarenka had been aiming for three in a row. Other women's title contenders Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova didn't even make it as far as the quarterfinals.

Nadal won on his fourth match point on Dimitrov's serve in 3 hours, 37 minutes, a long time after his celebration following a second-set tiebreaker that more resembled a victory dance. He stayed in a squat position after his winning cross-court shot and then pumped his chest out three times.

There were more muted celebrations after a tiebreaker in the third set, with Nadal acknowledging Dimitrov let him off the hook with a wide forehand on set point.

"I was so lucky," he said. "It gives me the opportunity to be in semifinals of a tournament I love so much."

Nadal fended off three set points in the third set, including two in the tiebreaker, and won on his first set point.

He went up 2-0 in the fourth when he hit a passing backhand down the line on break point with Dimitrov standing at the net. At the end, Dimitrov appeared to wipe tears from his eyes with a towel as he walked off Rod Laver Arena.

Dimitrov was still emotional during his post-match news conference, tearing up while discussing the forehand that got away.

"Obviously I got to put that in the past," he said. I'm sure I could have done something different. But in a match everything comes down to a split of a second ... whether in or out.

Earlier, he said: "I'm a bit shattered. I came out expecting nothing less than to win."

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