The 2014 Australian Open Men’s Singles Championship will be decided on Sunday at Melbourne Park between Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka.
The weather is set to be sunny and around the mid-20s when the pair step on court at the Rod Laver Arena for what hopefully won’t turn into a one-sided championship match.
Rafael Nadal 1.18 vs Stanislas Wawrinka 5.10 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 08.35 Sunday
To say that Rafa has had the edge over his title rival would be an understatement of the highest order given that Nadal leads the head-to-head by 12 to zero and 26 sets to nil.
So confidence won’t be an issue for Nadal as he prepares for his 19th Grand Slam final, and his third here at the Australian Open.
Rafa has an outstanding 13-5 record in major finals and will draw level with Pete Sampras on 14 Grand Slam titles should he, as expected, win this one against first time finalist Wawrinka.
Those looking for a chink of light for Stan will note that Rafa has won just three of his five major finals on hard courts and five of 10 away from clay, whilst he does have a sizeable blister on his racquet hand.
But that is clutching at straws a tad, as the hand didn’t seem to affect him one iota in another demolition of Roger Federer in the semi-final in which the latter had to win the opening set to stand a chance.
The soon to be Swiss number two had his opportunity in that opener by forcing the tie break that I had highlighted as a 3.85 value wager in my match preview.
It wasn’t to be for Federer though, as he went down in a flurry of costly errors and Wawrinka, who will rise up the rankings to at least world number six on Monday whatever happens in the final, is the next in line to try and solve the puzzle of Nadal.
The match-up for the Spanish ace is pretty much the same as it was against Federer, which is to batter the single-hander of Wawrinka and we’ve seen it countless times yet no one has been able to solve the problem effectively.
Stan comes here in the form of his life and the confidence that goes with it, but it’s a massive ask for him to come out and swing away from the first ball in his maiden Grand Slam final.
He looked nervy enough in the first set of his semi against Tomas Berdych and one feels that he’ll need to start much better on Sunday to gain a foothold in the match.
Wawrinka has been getting considerably closer to Nadal of late and three of the last four sets they’ve contested have been tie breaks – and he’s had chances in all of them.
If Wawrinka does manage to win the first set then we could have a match on our hands, but it’s very hard to see him coming from a set behind to beat Nadal in a Grand Slam final.
Clearly, the first set will be massive and if Stan can keep it tight by serving somewhere near his best he can make it close, as he did in their most recent meeting at the O2.
A poor first serve percentage of less than 50% didn't help Stan that day, but Rafa has struggled to break Wawrinka in their recent meetings, which is down to the improved weapon that the latter’s delivery now is, and if he can serve at over 60% in the first set he has a shot of being competitive at least.
Rafa will be edgy too, although he'll doubtless handle it way better, and I like the over 9.5 games in set one at 1.65 and the over 10.5 games at 2.70 is tempting too.
Something tells me that Wawrinka will be competitive enough to take his first ever set against Nadal, but I suspect that’ll be as good as it gets and the Rafa 3-1 win also appeals at 3.70.
Back over 9.5 games in set one at 1.65
Back Nadal 3-1 at 3.70