Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014 AUS OPEN: Men's Final Preview

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] vs. Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) [8]
This is my prediction post for the men's final of the 2014 Australian Open. Last year, I correctly predicted that Novak Djokovic would beat Andy Murray in 3 or 4 sets. This year I correctly predicted 1 of 2 men's semifinals and 1 of 4 men's quarterfinals. I also correctly predicted that Li Na would defeat Dominika Cibulkova in the women's final this year.

Men's Semifinals Review: How They Got Here
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) [8] d. Tomas Berdych (CZE) [7] 6-3 6-7(1) 7-6(3) 7-6(4)This was Wawrinka's second consecutive major semifinal and although I thought that his nerve would fail him on his quest to reach his first major final despite having a decided 8-5 head-to-head edge against his semifinal opponent. This match was a very hard-fought, tight affair and Wawrinka did quite well to make it through, demonstrating that his surprising quarterfinal defeat of 3-time defending champion Novak Djokovic was no fluke.

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] d. Roger Federer (SUI) [6] 7-6(3) 6-3 6-3This was the 33rd time the two great champions have met, but just like every Grand Slam match the two have played since 2007(!) the Spaniard emerged victorious again. The first set was very close but Federer's forehand seemed to lose accuracy at key moments and a few ill-timed unforced errors in the tiebreak were enough to result in the crucial loss of the first set. The basic match-up between Rafa's lefty forehand and Federer's one-handed backhand still result in a decisive advantage for the Spaniard.

Men's Final Preview: Who Will Win
There is near certainty that Rafael Nadal will win his 14th major title on Sunday. This is quite significant because it will mean that the Spaniard will have won each major title twice, in some sense completing the double career slam, something no player has achieved before. It will also put him within striking distance of Roger Federer's 17 major titles, with 10 more majors to be played before he turns 30. Nadal will also have won 3 of the last four majors, and could achieve the Rafa slam if he wins the French for a ridiculous 9th time and somehow manages to win Wimbledon this year.

Nadal is 12-0 against Wawrinka, and has never lost a set against him. The one silver lining for the Swiss player is that he had a very tight match with Nadal that included two close tiebreak sets at the ATP World Tour finals in London last year. However, the fact is that it is unclear how anyone with a one-handed backhand can match up with Nadal's lefty forehand. I think that Wawrinka's backhand side is probably stronger than Federer's and his serve is definitely more powerful (but maybe not more effective). Nadal definitely has a mental edge against Federer (especially in grand slam matches) but it's not clear that Wawrinka's mental disadvantage will be any less. After all, it has to be rough to play someone you have never beaten in a previous dozen matches in your very first major final.

MadProfessah's pick: Nadal.

1 comment:

carter said...

Surprise, Surprise!
Stan now #3 in the world, and Rafa further cements his hold on #1, regardless of playing at less than full strength.
Glad to see this win for Stan. He has worked very hard in improving his game over the past few years, and now has a reward to show for the effort.


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