Thirteen-time Major Champion Rafael Nadal, men`s singles finalist at the Australian Open is the hot favourite to win the title on Sunday. If he wins it, he will equal legendary Pete Sampras` record of 14 Majors and will also achieve an accomplishment of winning all four majors at least twice in his career.
Last year, he missed the Australian Open due to injury, and in 2012 he was a finalist, losing to Novak Djokovic. But 2013 saw Nadal in his prime, winning two Grand Slam titles and regaining the number one ranking. His run continues to the first Slam of the year, the Australian Open.
Nadal will meet the Other Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka, who has had a magical run this year, at the men`s singles finals at the Australian Open 2014. Though the Swiss is in stupendous form, gaining high confidence after knocking out defending champion Novak Djokovic en- route to the finals, his match against Nadal is expected to be a close fought one.
Rafa has not been very dominating in all the matches he has played so far. The matches he played with Japanese Kei Nishikori and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov were close calls, but he was back with a bang in his match against Roger Federer in the semis, defeating his arch-rival in straight sets.
Have a look at Nadal`s route to the finals
Semi-final: Defeated Roger Federer 7-6(4) 6-3 6-3
This was a clash-of-the-titans sort of match, as Rafa-Roger rivalry is already etched in history. Though the Swiss great was in a very good form, defeating Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray, he just couldn’t get the edge past the Spaniard. Nadal, with a blister hampered service hand, had answers to all of Federer`s shots. The match ended in three sets, sealing Rafa`s spot in the finals.
Quarter-final: Defeated Grigor Dimitrov 3-6 7-6(3) 7-6(7) 6-2
`Baby Fed` as Grigor Dimitrov is called, managed to give initial scare to Rafa. Rafa was taken to closely fought tie-breakers before eventually winning the match. Rafa`s service hand troubled him but his mindset did not. He knew he had the mental edge over the Bulgarian, but accepted that the match was a tough one, since Dimitrov`s playing style resembled Federer a lot.
Round 4: Defeated Kei Nishikori 7-6(3) 7-5 7-6(3)
The fourth round match could have been a cakewalk for Rafa but for Kei Nishikori. The Japanese Number One played remarkable tennis and though lost in three sets, gave Rafa quite a challenge. In the epic three-setter Nadal emerged victorious winning the match in straight sets in three hours and seventeen minutes.
Round 3: Defeated Gael Monfils 6-1 6-2 6-3
This was an easy match for the Spaniard. He continued his dominance over Gael Monfils, beating the Frenchman for the 10th time in 12 matches. The Frenchman hardly gave a fight to Rafa who easily won in straight sets.
Round 2: Defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2 6-4 6-2
Technically, this was Rafa`s first match of the tournament after his first-round tie was cut-short due to home-boy Bernard Tomic retirement. Nadal had no difficulty in eliminating Thanasi Kokkinakis in straight sets to progress to round three.
Round 1: Bernard Tomic 6-4 (retired hurt)
This was being touted as `the` match for Australian Bernard Tomic. Tomic even went on to claim that he was mentally ready to face and defeat Rafa. But, after the first set, Tomic retired citing an injury he faced on-court. Amidst boos from his home crowd, he quit giving Rafa an entry in the second round.