The 2014 Australian Open has been largely unpredictable. But just as No. 4 seed Li Na brought order to the women's final with a 7-6, 6-0 win over Dominika Cibulkova on Saturday, Rafael Nadal will put an end to the mayhem on the men's side.
The No. 8 seed, Stanislas Wawrinka, is the long-suffering, sentimental favorite. He had lost 14 straight matches to Novak Djokovic before breaking through against him in the quarterfinals. After moving past Tomas Berdych in the semifinals, the other Swiss star has a chance to do what his more famous countryman could not.
Future Hall of Famer Roger Federer fell at the feet of Nadal in their semifinal match. Unfortunately for Wawrinka, he won't be able to penetrate Nadal's wall of defense and seemingly unending supply of energy.
Nadal came into the tournament as the world's top-ranked player and No. 1 seed. He's lived up to the billing as he has only dropped one set the entire tournament.
How many sets will Nadal need to finish Wawrinka?
Wawrinka has had to battle through some tough matches—especially in the last two rounds against Djokovic and Berdych—it's hard to imagine him winning another marathon against Nadal.
Their history has been unkind to Wawrinka. The 28-year-old has lost all 12 previous meetings with Nadal. That includes a straight-sets rout at the Aussie Open (6-2, 6-2, 6-2) in 2007.
Wawrinka proved he could overcome huge odds against elite players earlier in the tournament, but Nadal is playing on a level that makes him seem impervious to storybook endings.
Because of his current run, Wawrinka is confident, despite his failures against his upcoming foe. Per the Associated Press (via The Washington Post) Wawrinka said:
I’ve played him so many times, and lost so many times, but I’m going to try again. I know what I have to do. I know that I have to play aggressive, serve really well, and try to always push him.
I’m playing my best tennis here. Physically, I’m ready.
Oh, but so is Rafa.
Despite a nasty blister on his hand, Nadal dominated Federer and outlasted Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals. He's won 11 straight matches dating back to 2013. A strong competitive match wouldn't be a total surprise, but a rout in favor of Nadal wouldn't be either.
As Bleacher Report's Jesse Reed points out, Nadal has made quick work of Wawrinka before:
The two finalists have met 12 times before—twice at majors—with Nadal earning a perfect 12-0 record, including two straight-sets wins in the Grand Slam events. They've battled twice in event finals, with Nadal winning both of those matches in straight sets, as well.
However it ends, Nadal will earn his second Aussie Open title of his illustrious career.
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