Roger favourite, says Rafa
Spain's shattered Rafael Nadal has named Roger Federer as clear favourite for their Australian Open final after the top seed's gruelling semi with Fernando Verdasco.
Nadal, who sobbed as he earned three match points after five hours and 14 minutes -- an Australian Open record -- against his fellow Spaniard was facing a race against time to recover for Sunday's final.
"It's going to be a little bit tough on Sunday. Roger had Friday off and only three sets in his semi-final so now, for sure, he's the favourite," said Nadal.
"But I'll try my best."
After the brutal but high-quality marathon, Verdasco netted the final point at 1:07 am on Saturday and Nadal was still talking to the media at 3:00 am.
He said he would have a massage, eat and try to sleep as long as possible on Saturday before a light practice session in the evening. The final is scheduled for 7:30 pm (0830 GMT) on Sunday.
Nadal, 22, is unlikely to be fully recovered after being stretched to the limit by his fellow left-hander, who bounced back from an apparent injury problem to force a gripping final set.
But Federer rejected suggestions Nadal would not be at his best, pointing out he had breezed through his earlier five matches in straight sets.
"You could think that way, but I don't think it's really going to affect Rafa that much. He's had very easy matches going into this semi-final," he said.
Nadal compared the Verdasco clash to last year's classic Wimbledon final with Federer, which was also a record for that tournament at four hours and 48 minutes.
"After two finals (Wimbledon) for me it was a little bit more emotional," he said.
"But the Verdasco match was one of those you're going to remember a long time. The emotion was big, because in the last game at 0-40 I started to cry. There was too much tension."
The unexpectedly close encounter with the little-known 14th seed sets up Nadal's first hard-court Grand Slam final in 11 attempts, where he can stop Federer matching Pete Sampras's record 14 Major titles.
Nadal has played Federer in six Grand Slam title matches, winning at both the French Open and Wimbledon last year to take a 4-2 edge in the meetings and a 12-6 lead overall.
He admitted he would rather not be facing the Swiss, who has looked back to his best in his march to the final.
"Any match against Federer is special, and another Grand Slam final is even more exciting," he said.
"But I'm a little bit unlucky. I don't know how I'm going to be for the final. I'm going to try my best for sure for recover my body and my physical performance.
"But after one match like this, the next days you feel much heavier. It's unlucky I'm always playing the same guy -- the best. For sure, I'd prefer another opponent."