Rafael Nadal vs. Stanislas Wawrinka: Breaking Down Australian Open Men's Final

R. Cory SmithSenior Writer IJanuary 24, 2014

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 12:  Rafael Nadal (L) of Spain stands with runner up Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland holding their trophies after Nadal won the final on day nine of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica  on May 12, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

After a tournament full of upsets on both the men's and women's side of the Australian Open, could one final shocker be in the cards when No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka takes on No. 1 Rafael Nadal in Melbourne?

Though the David vs. Goliath theme makes for a great storyline, history doesn't appear to be on Wawrinka's side against Nadal.

In their 12 head-to-head matches, Nadal is an unbelievable 12-0 against Wawrinka. In those matches, the Swiss player—who will overtake his fellow countryman Roger Federer as No. 1 in the country—has also never taken a set against the Spaniard.

Despite the disparity between the two players, Nadal's coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, told Douglas Robson of USA Today that his nephew will not be taking Wawrinka lightly, saying, "It's not the same Wawrinka today than one year ago."

What Nadal's uncle is likely referring to is when the two faced each other in the French Open quarterfinals, when Wawrinka was dominated and won just six games. Nadal echoed the remarks by his coach, according to the Australian Open official Twitter account:

Though there doesn't appear to be any advantages for Wawrinka, there is a glimmer of hope. The blister Nadal has fought through during the Australian Open and the extra rest for Wawrinka play in his favor, but he is still the underwhelming long shot heading into the final.

Before the two players take the court, here is the full match information followed by a breakdown of the Australian Open men's final.


Match Info

Where: Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia

When: Sunday, Jan. 26, at 3 a.m. ET

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: Watch ESPN


Match Breakdown

Wawrinka has never played in a men's final in a Grand Slam. He's faced Nadal just twice in a Grand Slam tournament and has been dominated in both, never winning more than three games in a set.

To say that the odds are stacked in his favor might be an understatement.

For Wawrinka, nothing will come easy when facing Nadal, but forcing close matches could be in his favor. Though he has not won a single set against the Spaniard in his 12 career matches, the Swiss player has gone to a tiebreaker in three of the last four games between the two.

Coming into the men's final, both players have been outstanding in tie-breaks during this year's Aussie Open as its Twitter account points out:

Another huge point of emphasis for Wawrinka will be dominating with his serve. After wearing down Novak Djokovic in the men's quarterfinals thanks to several long point wins and great serves, Wawrinka did the same against Tomas Berdych and found success in both matches to get to the final.

If Wawrinka can pull out some of those same demoralizing points, winning quick points off serves and breaking serve against Nadal could become easier. After watching Wawrinka in both previous matches, Nadal knows how explosive he can be, according to the Australian Open account:

As for Nadal, it appears as though he is playing his best tennis coming into the final. After Roger Federer dominated the rest of the competition en route to what was built up as a huge showdown with Nadal in the semifinals, he was dispatched in straight sets and never looked to have a chance.

Nadal's punishing style of tennis has made him a fearsome force in the game, and even a blister hasn't slowed him down thus far. With a win in the men's final, Nadal would overtake Federer as the youngest man to win his 14th Grand Slam, according to the Aussie Open Twitter account:

Along with his 14th title, Bryan Armen Graham of Sports Illustrated also points out that Nadal is on the cusp of another special mark over his career:

What Nadal will do well in the final is once again crushing Wawrinka with his blistering—pun intended—serve and unorthodox play throughout the match. Though the Swiss player has proven that he is now the best in his country, Nadal is still the best in the world because of the way he wears down his opponents.

With his growing legacy still four Grand Slam titles behind his semifinal opponent, Federer, Nadal will come in with not only momentum but also the confidence that he can take down Wawrinka. Though it is a great storyline coming in, Nadal's rule over the tennis world will be too much for the emerging star.