World number one Rafael Nadal will be keen to clinch his second Australian Open title, when he takes on surprise package Stanislas Wawrinka in the men's singles final at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
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The Australian Open title has been a rather elusive one for Nadal, with his only triumph in Melbourne coming way back in 2009, and it remains the only Grand Slam that the Spaniard has not won more than once.
However, the 27-year-old is currently enjoying one of his best spells on the court and is a heavy favourite to win on Sunday. Nadal enters the final on the back of a spectacular straight set victory (7-6 6-3 6-3) over Roger Federer in the semi on Friday.
Nadal is also looking to win the 14th Grand Slam title of his career today; an achievement that will see him equal Pete Sampras and go just three behind Federer's record tally of 17. But to do so, the man from Mallorca must get past Wawrinka, who is also playing the best tennis of his career at the moment. The Swiss has been really impressive in this edition and he capped it with a victory over world number two and Australian Open veteran Novak Djokovic, in a five-set thriller on his way to the final.
"I saw him play against Novak. I saw him play against (Tomas) Berdych. He's playing great. I know him. He's a good friend, great guy. So happy for him that he's in the final. He deserve it. He's playing better and better every year. He's serving unbelievable. He's hitting the ball very strong from the baseline. Very, very quick," the southpaw pointed out.
Nadal has won his last 12 matches against Wawrinka but the Spaniard said he will not be complacent today as the Swiss is playing at a different level now.
"[It] Is very difficult to play against him today. I know will be a very, very tough match. If I am not able to play my best, I think I will not have chances because he's coming to this match with a lot of victories and playing great," Nadal added.
Wawrinka, on the other hand, is playing his first ever Grand Slam final. The 28-year-old had a hit-and-miss career so far but he will be hoping to put an end to his title drought today.
The Swiss does face a familiar foe in Nadal, after participating in several practice sessions with the Spaniard in recent years.
"I'm happy to play Rafa, you know. He's a really good friend. We practice a lot together. He's amazing champion. So it's going to be a great final for sure to play him. I think he's playing for sure some of his best tennis. Especially when you have to play night session here it's a little bit slower. He can really play his game and try to play aggressive," Wawrinka stressed.
"Yeah, I play him so many times, lost so many times, but going to try again. I know what I have to do: I know that I have to play aggressive, serve really well, and trying to always push him. We'll see how I can do that tomorrow night," he added.
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