They hadn't met in a Grand Slam that wasn't a final since the French Open in 2005 but Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were tied at a set a piece in the 2012 Australian Open semifinals.
This winner. That winner.
Nadal stays on serve. 1-0 Nadal.
Nadal rolled ahead winning 11 consecutive points since the firework break that paused the second set at 5-2 in Nadal's favor. He then hit a forehand wide then a backhand in the net, then barely touched a striking forehand from Federer. Nadal watched three break points slip away and Federer eventually won the game after winning on his advantage. 1-1.
Nadal served better. Federer guessed wrong on Nadal's shot placement and Nadal stayed on serve after winning four straight points. 2-1 Nadal
Before I could type anything about the game, it was over. Four straight points. 2-all.
Nadal started off the game winning his 12th consecutive point on his serve before he hit the ball long on what would have been the 13th consecutive point. Federer made the error on the next three points. 3-2 Nadal.
Five points. Backhand volley winner. Backhand wide by Nadal. Backhand in the net by Nadal. Federer double fault. Then on the sixth point, cheers and murmurs midpoint during a classic point between the two former World No.1s as they battled for the point. Eventually, Federer wins the game. 3-all.
And that's when the rhythm of the match reestablished itself. The court began to widen for both players as they rallied, winning off too-good of shots that were unreachable by the other. Offense. Defense. Offense. Defense. It changed quicker then the ball could pass across the net. There are too many words to describe this game. After 26 head-to-head matches, there were no trick plays, just pure point-for-point rallies and lots of rhythm changes. Deuce. Ad Federer. Deuce. Ad Federer. Deuce. Ad Federer. After four break points, Federer converted. 4-3 Federer.
Nadal breaks back. 4-all.
A little over two hours and 10 minutes have passed and there's a 22-shot rally. It ends with a Federer shot in the net. A point later Nadal holds onto his serve. 5-4 Nadal.
Federer's service game starts off with two points that are ended by a Nadal forehand in the net. It's 40-15 in Federer's favor. Nadal's scrambling to the net after Federer it's a cross court volley. Rafa pops it up and Nadal slams a back hand volley to the open court. Game. 5-all.
Oh, look Kim Clijsters. Despite being knocked from the tournament just a few hours before by 22-year-old Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, Clijsters is in the stands to watch the semifinal match between the tournament's No. 2 and No. 3 seeds.
Rafa's serve. 15-love. 15-all. 15-30. Rafa's momentum. Fed's momentum. Rafa. Fed. Rafa's game. 6-5 Rafa.
Set point Nadal, but Federer attacks with a forehand winner. Even the crowd seems slap happy when they begin cheering for the ball boy who catches the ball that Federer hits to him with some strength. Federer holds. 6-6. Time for tiebreak No. 2.
Nadal's up two mini-breaks. 5-1. An unforced error by Federer. Almost three hours in to the semifinal match. Five set points for Nadal. Federer strikes a clean winner off his backhand. The Fed saves two set points off his opponent's serve. The Swiss fights off three set points. An ace. Four set points saved by Federer, but he can't make it five.
Nadal wins the set.