Look, I’m not going to pretend that I’m not disappointed that my predictions for this tournament fell apart at various points over the past two weeks, but I’m going to balance out my failings by deflecting the spotlight. The following “experts” also got it wrong with the Djokovic/Williams championship pairing: Pam Shriver, Cliff Drysdale, Bruce McAvaney and Pat Cash.
So if you want to compare me to Pat Cash, who won at Wimbledon and reached the Australian Open final twice, go for your life. I’m not complaining.
Australian Open Men’s Final Betting Odds
Rafael Nadal to win – 1.17
Stanislas Wawrinka to win – 5.00
(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)
We’re left with Stanislas “Stan” Wawrinka and Rafael “Nads” Nadal (Not sure anyone calls him this – ed.). These are the two that came through the fire and brimstone of the first week at Melbourne Park, and have each managed wins over big seeds in their previous two matches. Of course, Stan won’t have enough for Nadal, because nobody ever does.
“But he beat Djokovic!” you cry, and even if you don’t, let’s pretend you do for the purpose of the point I’m about to make. Stan has never beaten Rafael Nadal. In his previous 12 matches with the Spaniard, Stan hasn’t even taken a set. They’ve played out six tiebreaks on hard courts, and Stan has never edged one.
This is the flipside of underdog finals: we love Stan, and hope the best for Stan, and so we like to think that Stan can do it, but reality gets in the way. Historically, the last game of the Australian Open isn’t the stage for an upset. Since the tournament moved from Kooyong to Melbourne Park in 1988, on only four occasions has the higher-seeded player in the final lost. Unless The Blister (which I feel is now wide and deep enough to refer to with capital letters) on his left hand decides to swallow his racquet, and with it the rest of the universe, Nadal shouldn’t have too many problems.
Calling specifics is a dangerous game in that I try my best not to look foolish, but I am somewhat obligated to actually suggest my tips as someone who, in some circles, has been compared to Pat Cash. I’d expect Stan to pick up a hard-fought set in the biggest match of his career to date, but Nadal should finish it in four. Temperatures bizarrely halved overnight at the end of the first week of play, so heat is no longer a factor, though Stan hasn’t had it easy. His last two wins have been gruelling – and occasionally spectacular – but it’s hard to see how he’ll be able to hold that level against the world number one who, like Wawrinka himself, is playing very close to his best.
Despite a certain inevitability about this match – Nadal loses and I’m made to look foolish – it should be entertaining. Looking for tennis? Look no further: they’ll be hitting balls really fast over a net, and that’s usually enough.
Betting Instinct Tip – Nadal to win in four sets is 3.25 with GR88.com
MAX GRIEVE (maxjgri) is Australian, but keep reading. He likes football, rugby union and tennis, though has given up on his dream of being a tri-sport athlete/exciting millionaire. He supports Liverpool, and is ashamed for doing so.