MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — For five matches at the Australian Open, Roger Federer appeared to be as graceful and confident on court as he was at the height of his career, losing just one set as he cruised into the semifinals.
And then he ran into a familiar wall — the man who bedevils him like nobody else at the Grand Slams.
Federer hasn't defeated Rafael Nadal at a major for nearly seven years, his last win coming at Wimbledon in 2007. Nadal now enjoys a 23-10 record against him overall — and he's 9-2 against Federer at the slams.
Federer's mounting frustration was clear during his 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 semifinal loss on Friday night.
At one point during a changeover, a clearly frustrated Federer complained to the chair umpire about Nadal's grunting, which he thought to be excessive. He later said he doesn't think the umpires enforce certain rules when it comes to Nadal, pointing out that the Spaniard had only received two penalties in all of their matches for taking too much time between points.
"I'm not complaining about so many things," Federer said. "I just think it's important to enforce the rules on many levels, whatever it may be. On all the players the same way. Don't give me or (Novak) Djokovic a free pass just because of who we are. I think we should all be judged the same way."
Federer may be feeling better about his form given the way he's started the year, reaching the final of his first tournament at Brisbane and now the semifinals of the Australian Open for the 11th consecutive year, notching wins over 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 4-ranked Andy Murray, the Wimbledon champion.