Melbourne: Rafael Nadal on Thursday said it was a "dream" to reach the Australian Open final after a freak injury on the eve of the tournament left him crying in his hotel room.
The Spanish ace extended his mastery over Roger Federer 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to reach his second Melbourne final, something which appeared unlikely after his sudden injury just before the first round.
Nadal was sitting in his hotel when he was hit by agonising pain in his troublesome right knee and was unable to bend his leg, prompting frantic medical treatment to get him fit to play.
"Sunday afternoon, 24 hours to play my first match, I was in my room crying because I believed I didn't have the chance to play in Melbourne," he said.
"So it was a very, very tough situation for me, those hours.
"Two weeks later I am here in the finals, so it is a dream for me because I had very bad expectations 24 hours before the first match, and now two weeks later I am playing well. I am in the final.
"Always playing grand slam finals is very good news. I've been in the last four grand slam finals so it is a great effort I think."
Nadal has shown no signs of discomfort and he progressed smoothly through the opening rounds, and did not drop a set until his quarter-final with Tomas Berdych.
And he neutralised Federer's exquisite tennis with a typically determined performance punctuated by belting forehand winners. The 25-year-old will play either Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray for his 11th grand slam title.
"I am happy about how I am doing. When I am able to play inside, to play aggressive, I think things are working fantastic," he said.
"I don't know if it's going to be enough against Novak or against Andy. But what can I say? I'm very happy about my tournament. I'm going to try my best to try to play a fantastic final and hopefully I will have my chances."
Asked whether he would rather play Djokovic or Murray, Nadal joked: "I prefer the player who's going to play worse on Sunday."