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Agony for Victoria Azarenka

Roger Federer after beating Andy Murray, in Melbourne, on Wednesday

Melbourne: Roger Federer’s revival gathered pace as he edged Andy Murray in a late-night fight on Wednesday to set up a blockbuster Australian Open semi-final with world No. 1 Rafa Nadal, who earlier in the day had rode his luck to beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

Swiss Federer played sublime tennis to open a two-set lead over Murray, but had to withstand a late charge from the Briton before claiming a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 win in the first “Big Four” clash of the year.

Nadal had dug himself out of a hole to suppress an inspired Dimitrov, winning 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 after his opponent had squandered a golden chance to win the third set.

Victoria Azarenka could only blame herself after she was earlier shown the door 1-6, 7-5, 0-6 by Agnieszka Radwanska to leave the tournament without a defending champion in the last four of either draw for the first time in the professional era.

After ending Azarenka’s hopes of a third straight title, Radwanska will face Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, who crushed Simona Halep 6-3, 6-0, to decide who meets China’s Li Na or Canadian teenager Genie Bouchard in the final.

With Tomas Berdych meeting Novak Djokovic’s conquerer Stan Wawrinka in the first men’s semi-final on Thursday, the winner of the Nadal-Federer clash, on Friday, will like their chances of adding another Grand Slam title to their considerable hauls.

“It’s going to be a good match,” 32-year-old Federer, who had reached only one Grand Slam semi-final since claiming a 17th major title by beating Murray in the 2012 Wimbledon final. It’s going to be brutal and all those things. Looking forward to slugging it out with Nadal in a couple of days.”

A free-flowing Federer had looked in total command against Murray until late in the third set, when he served for the match at 5-4, having just broken the fourth seed’s serve. (Agencies)

Day X Results

Men’s singles

Quarter finals

Roger Federer (6, Sui) bt Andy Murray (4, GBR) 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3; Rafa Nadal (1, Esp) bt Grigor Dimitrov (22, Bul) 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(7), 6-2

Women’s singles

Quarter finals

Agnieszka Radwanska (5, Pol) bt Victoria Azarenka (2, Blr) 6-1, 5-7, 6-0; Dominika Cibulkova (20, Svk) bt Simona Halep (11, Rom)

6-3, 6-0

Women’s doubles

Semi-finals

Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci (1, Ita) bt Kveta Peschke/Katarina Srebotnik (4, Cze /Slo) 6-1, 6-4; Ekaterina Makarova/ Elena Vesnina (3, Rus) bt Raquel Kops-Jones/Abigail Spears (8, US) 7-5, 3-6, 6-3

Men’s doubles

Quarter finals

Michael Llodra/Nicolas Mahut (13, Fra) bt Leander Paes/Radek Stepanek (5, Ind/Cze) 6-2, 7-6(4)

Mixed doubles

Quarter finals

Jarmila Gajdosova/ Matthew Ebden (Aus) bt Katarina Srebotnik/ Rohan Bopanna (2, Slo/ Ind)7-5, 6-3

Note: Seeded and Indian players only