Rafael Nadal
Nadal cruised into the final four in Melbourne. Reuters

Rafael Nadal has booked his place in the Australian Open semi-finals after a straight sets win over third seed Milos Raonic, keeping hopes over a dream final with Roger Federer alive.

With both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray suffering early exits in Melbourne, Nadal and Federer are hoping to renew their enduring rivalry with the draw keeping both men apart until Sunday's final on Sunday (29 January) – should both progress that far.

With Federer setting up an all-Swiss semi-final against Stanislas Wawrinka, Nadal has kept up his part of the deal, seeing off Raonic at the Rod Laver Arena to set up his final four meeting with Grigor Dimitrov.

It took the 30-year-old until the seventh game to break Raonic en route to sealing the opening set, but the hard-hitting Canadian fought back in the second, forcing Nadal onto the back foot with three break points.

As the set progressed into a tie break, Raonic moved onto the brink of levelling the contest, beating Nadal with a superb lob shot to set him up to serve out for the set.

Raonic's resolve abandoned him at the crucial moment, however, hitting a double fault to open the door back open for the Spaniard. Having had six set points in total during the second, his capitulation was complete when he landed a simple return into the net.

Nadal held to love immediately in the third, full of confidence after his opponent's slip. Raonic continued to swing back but was unable to haul the 14-time grand slam winner back, securing the victory with the only break of the set.

2009 champion Nadal and Federer, 35, last met in a grand slam final in 2011. When quizzed about the 17-time grand slam winner's upcoming showdown with Dimitrov, Nadal said: "I love the sport. If you don't want to watch this match you don't like the sport," BBC Sport reported.

"I think it's amazing, after a tough injury to have Roger back in the semis again is great. Especially for him and all the people who love tennis. I want to congratulate him for a great effort and wish both of them luck."