Can Nadal defeat Dimitrov to set-up a famous Federer reunion?
The 2017 Australian Open will go down in history as the tournament when the old guard returned to their former glories.
While Serena and Venus prepare to meet in a classic all-Williams showdown in the women’s draw, Roger Federer is awaiting to find out who he will face in the men’s, and it could be old foe Rafael Nadal.
Federer and Nadal haven’t clashed in a showpiece since the 2011 French Open, but have done so eight times in total.
Indeed, should Nadal make it through, then the average age of this year’s finalists would be a startling 34 and a significant throwback to a decade ago.
Indeed the last – and only previous – time we saw a Federer v Nadal and Williams v Williams showdown was Wimbledon 2008.
The head-to-head score-line reads 6-2 in the Spaniard’s favour, but of course that includes numerous French Open battles. The duo have met just once before in a hard court final, in Melbourne back in 2009.
But in Grigor Dimitrov, we have a spoiler in this dream scenario.
The Bulgarian has endured a difficult two years, since reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2014.
A split with coach Roger Rasheed followed in 2015, followed by a brief stint with Franco Davin.
But that switch didn’t help, and Dimitrov slipped to 40th in the rankings last July.
The 25-year-old parted company with Davin that month however, and has enjoyed a steady climb back up the order, thanks to Andy Murray’s former coach Daniel Vallverdu.
Nevertheless, Nadal is favourite in the betting at 2/5, and boasts a 7-1 head-to-head record with Dimitrov.
That sole victory for the Bulgarian however, came just three months ago in Beijing.
A look through the results suggests Dimitrov has had it easier thus far, with Denis Istomin ensuring a potential fourth round clash with Djokovic failed to occur.
Nadal however, will be buoyed by wins over the up-and-coming Alex Zverev, plus sixth seed Gael Monfils and an excellent straight sets win over pre-tournament tip Milos Raonic in the last eight.
Dimitrov is clearly emerging from his struggles of the last few years, but equally this is Nadal’s best run in a Slam since the French Open in 2014.
And the lure of a potential reunion with Federer, with both having to watch Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray clean up in recent years, might just tip the balance in Nadal’s favour to complete a remarkable pair of Australian Open finals.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing