It's getting down to the business end of the Australian Open, with three of the four singles finalists now confirmed. An epic semi-final between two of the all-time greats in Roger Federer and Rafael tonight will see the last spot go on the line, in what is one of the most anticipated clashes on Rod Laver Arena in recent times.
The Women's draw has been characterised by upsets in 2014, with the top seeds wilting under the pressure of the Melbourne heat. The two players who've been best able to overcome the conditions and will contest Saturday night's final are China's Li Na and Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova. However they'll both no doubt be feeling the weight of their nations expectations in their quest to lift the trophy in the year's first grand slam.
The scene will be a familiar one for Na, having won through to the final for the third time in four years. While she has won the first set in her two previous finals appearances, she is yet to have her name etched in the trophy. However the former French Open champion, who is making her ninth appearance at the Australian Open has declared she feels “lucky” third around. The fourth seed will have experience on her side and about 1.3 billion of the world's population cheering her on but as we have seen there are no certainties in tennis.
The fairytale run of Cibulkova may yet end in a happy ending, with the diminutive 24-year-old set to become the first Slovakian to win a grand slam title if successful. She will have to overcome a player she has never beaten in their four previous encounters, but will go into the final in red hot form. The world No.24 has beaten Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska en route to the final and has only dropped six games in her quarter and semi-final combined. Despite only being 161cm tall and weighing 55kg Cibulkova has stamped herself as a future star.
The Men's draw saw the meeting of the seventh and eighth seeds in the final four with Stan Wawrinka winning through to his first grand slam final when he overcame Tomas Berdych. Wawrinka showed no signs of fatigue from his marathon quarter-final, where he ousted defending champion Novak Djokovic. In what was a tight contest that saw very few break point opportunities, and three of the four sets go to tie-breakers, Wawrinka held his nerve to take the match and raise the possibility of an all-Swiss final.
Of course that will depend on the outcome when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal resume their long-standing rivalry as they bid to add more silverware to their impressive careers. Nadal seemingly has the edge over the man many consider to be the greatest to have ever played the game. The Spaniard holds a 22-10 record over Federer and has been victorious in both their prior meetings at the Australian Open – the five-set final in 2009 and a four-set semi-final win in 2012. No doubt the original Swiss maestro will be desperate to turn the tables and meet his compatriot in the final.
You can catch all the action of the Australian Open finals across the weekend live on the big screen in the SSC clubhouse. We look forward to serving up the pinnacle of the 2014 action and invite you to join us as new champions are crowned at Melbourne Park.
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