MELBOURNE (AFP) - Roger Federer stands on the brink of tennis immortality with an unsurpassed 14th Grand Slam title there for the taking in the Australian Open final on Sunday. Federer, back to his breathtaking best, would be even money against old foe Rafael Nadal if not for the Spaniard's draining five-set semi-final which wrapped up in Saturday's early hours. Nadal toiled for five hours and 14 minutes on a sultry Melbourne evening before subduing fellow Spanish power-hitter Fernando Verdasco, breaking down in tears before the match ended. 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. But the world number two has a golden chance not only to match his idol Pete Sampras's Slams record, which has stood since 2002, but also to avenge his heart-breaking loss to Nadal in last year's Wimbledon final. That defeat over five classic sets and nearly five hours ended Federer's five-year reign at the sport's most prestigious event and precipitated his fall from the number one ranking after 237 weeks. "It's an unbelievable opportunity for me, of course, not being number one any more, trying to beat number one in the world and getting the 14th Grand Slam," he said. "This is where I won the Grand Slam to become number one in the world back in 2004 really, so I've always had a special liaison with this tournament. "The stage is set for a great match. I hope we can live up to it like we did in Wimbledon." After a workmanlike win over Andreas Seppi in the first round, Federer strolled past Evgeny Korolev and then destroyed long-time rival Marat Safin. He flirted with a shock exit to Tomas Berdych but fought back from two sets down and has since gone from strength to strength, beating Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 and brutally halting Andy Roddick's impressive run. Sunday is Federer and Nadal's seventh Grand Slam final with the Spaniard holding a 4-2 edge. Nadal is 12-6 overall but has not beaten the Swiss on hard courts since 2006. Federer's debut Grand Slam was the 1999 French Open and he won his first two matches here the following year. It was not until 2003 that he tasted success, winning his first Wimbledon final against Mark Philippoussis. The Swiss won the first of three Australian Open titles the following year and reached the number one ranking that February, a position he held until last August. He also defended his Wimbledon title and won his first US Open title in 2004 to assert total dominance. Over the next four years he would add nine more Slams and lose four finals, reaching at least the semis at each event. Nadal was just 19 when he won his first French Open in 2005 and has now captured four in a row. The one-time king of clay has also reached the last three Wimbledon finals, making his breakthrough in July, and led the tour with a 46-10 record on hard courts last year. "Any match against Federer is special, and another Grand Slam final is even more exciting," Nadal 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." Nadal stormed through the early rounds against Christophe Rochus, Roko Karanusic, Tommy Haas and Fernando Gonzalez but was tested by Gilles Simon before his marathon semi-final.