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Wawrinka looks for first win over Nadal -- in Australian Open final

Jan. 25, 2014 at 12:03 AM   |   Comments

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MELBOURNE, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Stanislas Wawrinka has had a series of firsts recently but he needs a huge victory Sunday to grab the biggest first of his tennis career.

Wawrinka, No. 8 in the world rankings, goes against world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open men's singles final. It is Wawrinka's first Grand Slam final, coming in his 36th major tournament.

Two months shy of 29 years old, late for tennis career to peak, Wawrinka reached the Top 10 last May. His four finals appearances last year marked a career first.

On Tuesday, he knocked off No. 2-ranked and three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic and Thursday he beat seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) and gained a spot in the title match.

Wawrinka had to wait until Friday to learn that he'll be going against Nadal, who dispatched sixth-seeded Roger Federer 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-3 in his semifinal.

(Another first for Wawrinka: His finals appearance and Federer's loss Friday will move Wawrinka ahead of Federer in the world rankings, making him the highest-ranked Swiss player for the first time.)

Nadal is 12-0 lifetime versus Wawrinka. He's also won all 26 sets they have contested, although three of the last four sets have gone to tiebreakers.

Just as Wawrinka is looking to add to his list of firsts Sunday, Nadal has a first on the horizon and a couple of all-time seconds in hand. A win would give Nadal a second Australian Open title (he won in 2009, beating Federer in five sets), making him the first player of the Open Era to win each Grand Slam event at least twice.

It would be Nadal's 14th major tournament championship, tying him with Pete Sampras for second most all-time (Federer has 17).

The title match in Melbourne will be Nadal's 19th major tournament finals appearance, tying him with Ivan Lendl for second (Federer has 24).

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