Ever Tried…. Ever Failed… Tattoo to Title?

Two weeks of tennis feast down under comes to a close with the ultimate battle of grit and strength in the men’s singles final featuring very familiar face in the world no.1 Rafael Nadal and the resurgent, soon to be Swiss no.1 Stanislas Wawrinka in the night session of the Australia’s day on Rod Laver Arena.

This match up is more than a fascinating contest if all the H2H and individual records are not considered. Unfortunately, Stan-The-Man has to deal with his 26 set losses in 12 previous meetings with Rafa coming into the final. But Wawrinka has been magnificent on tour since he appointed Magnus Norman as the coach that saw him achieve the career best ranking of no.8 last year.

Both players have started their season with tremendous form in winning their respective warm up tournaments in Chennai and Doha. With their unbeaten streaks, it’s a deserving place to be in the final of the first major of 2014.

Let’s break down the game of individual players so far.

Stanislas Wawrinka:

The Swiss didn’t compete all six matches in his run to the final, thanks to the retirement of his first round opponent in the opening set and withdrawal of the Canadian Vasek Pospisil from the tournament with injury prior to the third round clash which gave him a walkover to the R16. In the rest of the matches played, he survived the test of the Colombia’s Alejandro Falla and the Spaniard Tommy Robredo on his way to the quarters with the loss of one set in a tiebreaker. Then came the historic match against the four times champion Novak Djokovic which saw him record one of the best wins of his career. He consolidated it beating Tomas Berdych in a high quality service battle in the semifinal. During the course of these matches, Wawrinka was solid on his serve and the play from back of the court. His biggest weapon is the single handed backhand which is best in the business. It would be interesting to watch how he uses it against the wicked top spin of Nadal which often caused lot of damage to the fellow single handed backhand player and his campatriot Federer over the years.

Rafael Nadal:

After a memorable 2013, Rafa started his campaign with a title win leading to the Happy Slam, which he has never done before in his illustrious career. Though he hasn’t played the best tennis so far, he found a way to come out on top every time. That’s the credential of a champion. It must be said that he hit the top gear at the right moment with the demolition of his great rival Roger Federer in the semifinals. That should be a great confidence boost facing Wawrinka in the final. Rafa was supposed to face a stern challenge of the Australian Bernard Tomic in the first round, but it ended in a dramatic way as the Aussie retired with groin pain after losing the opening set. In the next match, he dealt with another local teenager with a satisfying victory. He followed it up with some exhibition kind of stuff against the former top ten player Gael Monfils which is his best performance in the open so far. In the fourth round he struggled against the talented Kei Nishikori dropping the serve first time in the tournament, but he managed to win it in straight sets. In the quarters, he was highly outclassed by the Bulgarian Dimitrov for a better part of the match, which Rafa won in four sets including two tiebreakers in the second and third sets. It was not a great sign for him to play Federer in semis who was on song with his game. But the history clearly behind him, Rafa dominated well to reach his 19th major final. If there is any concern for Nadal, it’s the blister on the left palm that has hardly troubled him in the semifinals.

A rare piece of history awaits Nadal as he attempts to join the league of Australian legends Roy Emerson and Rod Laver to win every major at least twice. It also draws him to share the common second place on all-time major winners list with Pete Sampras (14) and takes him within the reach of the record 17 titles held by the Swiss maestro Roger Federer. On the other hand, playing in his first ever major final Stan Wawrinka looks to make it count in this golden era of tennis to become the first man outside of the big four since Juan Martin Del Potro to win a major.


Keeping the form and fitness in mind, I must say that it’s Stan Wawrinka with a slight edge (51%) to lift the silverware on the Sunday night in Melbourne park. Winning in four sets has to be the best bet for Wawrinka. But Rafa’s chances increase if the match goes as long as five sets.

Story of the tournament:

Besides, one of the finalists Wawrinka, if there is any inspirational story it has to be the Bulgarian 22-year old star Grigor Dimitrov. He finally came out of the weight of expectations to justify his infamous ‘Baby Fed’ tag and made a surprise run to the quarters including a four set victory over his rival to be in future and the top Canadian Milos Raonic and Del Potro slayer Robert Bautista Agut before losing to the Spaniard Nadal.

-Harish Narahari [Harish Narahari is a Sports Analyst for the Tennis Galaxy at Sportz Cosmos He tweets here]


59 thoughts on “Ever Tried…. Ever Failed… Tattoo to Title?

  1. Nice write up and summary. However, I disagree big time with your prediction. Nadal is clearly the favorite and it would be a tremendous miracle if Stan wins this matchup. Stan is playing great, but Nadal is a terrible matchup for Stan. Nadal has made a career out of destroying single handed back hands and Stan hasn’t even taken a set from Rafa ever. Also, Stans height is also a problem since the topspin coming from Rafa racquet should give him even more problems, as it always has. Also, Stans back hand is great, but it is not the best in the game. Gasquet earns that honor easily. And that’s not even Wawrinka best shot. It’s his forehand what has taken him to the next level. 96 winners this tournament vs 48 from the backhand side and has around 80 UFE from the backhand wing. Expect much more in this match. In summary, I believe Stan has like a 5% chance of winning this. Nadal is just not a great match up for him. Remember, even though he came through against Nole, he came close twice last year and has beaten him before. And Berdych he had a H2H advantage over. With Nadal he has no leverage on, and Nadal found his championship form just in time against his familiar foe. Nadal 76 64 63.

  2. True Carlos, but in this tournament, Nadal has not looked convincing at all. Don’t you thin that previous head to heads are irrelevant when a player is in the form of his life. I think Wawrinka is playing much better than Nishikori and Dimitrov. If they can trouble Rafa, Wawrinka can as well.

  3. I agree with Rajk that Rafa could be troubled but “Single Handed Back Hand, Buggy Whipper, Single Handed Back Hand, Buggy Whipper, point Rafa…” is pretty much my take.

  4. Stan playing beautifully so far. I have never seen a supposedly great champion being hit off the court as many times as nadal has been across tournaments over so many years.

  5. Wawrinka pummelling Nadal. Seriously, it is a travesty if such a defensive player keeps winning hard court slams. Go Stan go.

  6. Laver’s interview to Lendl” Our days game was simple! We were naturals. In current scenario, Roger seems natural. Others seem to look at their coaches if things dont go as planned. It has to be you who needs to know.” Not the exact words but from what I can reconstruct. As I remembered this, Rafa was broken and he looks at Toni. Laver the GOAT.

  7. I actually have to give you credit. Wawrinka is up a set and a break and is looking glorious. You were right and I failed to see the greatness that you saw. Regardless if Nadal comes back, Stan has show much more than I thought.

  8. I am sorry, this is ridiculous. Pathetic final. Wawrika’s rhythm is gone, I cannot help dislike Nadal.he will neither play nor retire.

  9. I am just sick of this guy and his antics. Another Medical Time Out? How many are he allowed? Can he keep taking one every three games just when Wawrinka is getting some kind of rhythm?

  10. Well, this back injury has led to 19 unforced errors from Stan in the 3rd set, up from 10 each in the first two sets. it’s hard to say Nadal has not benefitted from the injury.

  11. Come on guys. It is clear that Nadal is hurt. He would never give up after losing one set. He never has. But at the same time, Stan played great for 2 sets. He gifted Nadal the third for sure. But if Stan wins in 4, even with injury, he deserves it 100%. He played majestically the first 2 sets and should finish it in 4. I as a Nadal fan give Stanimal all the credit

  12. Carlos, I am not saying Nadal is not hurt, but the injury seems to have affected Stan as much as it has affected Rafa. So overall, in a weird way, it might help him. Look at set 3 for example.

    • Agreed. What the he’ll is wrong with Stan? He should have won already! He can’t let Rafa recover because that is peligroso (dangerous). Rafa slowly is recovery is serve speed and movement. Stan has to put it away now.

  13. I feel for Nadal that he got injured, but I feel for Wawrinka here too. it is just not fair to him. He was outplaying Nadal fair and square in set 1 and now he is not certain how he should play. Gosh, I just wish someone would win this match and be done with this. This match belongs to drama, not tennis. The quality of tennis is just atrocious.

  14. I wish i never have to see a grand slam final like this again. I wanted Wawrinka to win, but winning it this away is pointless. Really sad.

  15. Superb Prediction from the author!

    I too might have been one of the few to believe Stanislas has been special in this tournament! Detailed view to follow!

    Welcome to the club Stan!!!

  16. I had picked Stan to beat Nadal, for two reasons: 1: He was on a high roll after beating the djoker (some players get flat); and 2: Nadal’s serving hand was questionable. Also, Stan played some great tennis leading up to the fina, i.e., beating top players, and he was match grooved — he had the momentum. The only competition Nadal had were Dmitriov and of course Fed, who is not a threat to Nadal.

    Nadal was not tested going into the final as severely as Stan was, added to that, Stan had come very close to beating him in their last match (7-6, 7-6) thus, with those facts against Nadal, I’m not surprised that Stan got the W. Aside from the fact Nadal hurt his back, as the saying goes, if you play you’re fit.


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