Rafa rolls on as Serena shows fighting spirit

COME ON! Rafael Nadal reacts as he plays Gilles Simon during their men's singles quarterfinal match at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday. 28/01/09. Pic. Rob Griffith. © AP.
COME ON! Rafael Nadal reacts as he plays Gilles Simon during their men's singles quarterfinal match at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday. 28/01/09. Pic. Rob Griffith. © AP.

MELBOURNE - Rafael Nadal booked an all-Spanish Australian Open semifinal against Fernando Verdasco yesterday as Serena Williams clawed back from a set down in searing heat to keep her dreams alive.

MELBOURNE - Rafael Nadal booked an all-Spanish Australian Open semifinal against Fernando Verdasco yesterday as Serena Williams clawed back from a set down in searing heat to keep her dreams alive.

The world number one fought off a determined rear-guard action by battling French six seed Gilles Simon to win 6-2 7-5 7-5 as he goes in search of his first Aussie Open title.

The victory earns him a crack at Verdasco for a place in the final against Roger Federer or Andy Roddick after the left-hander sent French fifth seed and last year's runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga packing 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 6-2.

In contrast to Verdasco's seven-year wait to make the business end of a grand slam, Williams booked her 15th grand slam semifinal as temperatures soared to 41 degrees Celsius. The roof was finally closed on the Rod Laver Arena and Williams was a beneficiary.

The three-time champion was a set down to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova at the time but recovered her composure against the fuming eighth seed to run out a 5-7 7-5 6-1 winner. - Sapa-AFP

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