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Rafael Nadal vs Stan Wawrinka: A rivalry of two halves

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 9 Aug 2018
  • Rafael Nadal leads his head-to-head against Wawrinka 16-3
  • Nadal won the first 12 matches in straight sets, but Wawrinka has been making a better feast of the rivalry in recent years
Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka after the 2017 French Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

As Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka prepare for their 20th meeting, we look back at a rivalry which initially began with absolute Nadal domination, but has evened out a bit over the last few years.

Nadal won their first twelve meetings in straight sets, but Wawrinka has made it more of a rivalry since them, winning three of their last seven encounters.

#1. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-2 6-2, Australian Open 2007 R32

This Nadal-Wawrinka ‘rivalry’ dates back to 2007, with Rafael Nadal already a two-time French Open champion, brushing aside Wawrinka 6-2 6-2 6-2 to extend the Swiss’ wait for a first appearance in the second week of a Slam. Nadal went on to reach the quarter finals of the Australian Open for the first time, eventually falling to Fernando Gonzalez.

#2. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 7-5, Stuttgart Final, 2007

Wawrinka gave a better account of himself in his second meeting with Nadal, their first on clay, but like many others before and after him, he found the Spaniard unbeatable on the terre bateau. To put things into perspective, Nadal, who was No. 2 in the world at the time, already had three French Open titles, and had won a staggering 92 of his 93 matches on clay prior to that Stuttgart final. Wawrinka had done well to battle back from 2-5 to 5-5, but Nadal, despite playing with a knee injury held him off to claim his sixth title of the season.

#3. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 6-3, Paris Masters R16, 2009

Hard courts or clay courts did not make much difference in the early stages of this match-up, as Nadal rolled past Wawrinka in straight sets in their third and final meeting in 2017.

#4. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 7-6 7-6 Miami Masters R16, 2009

After crossing paths three times in 2007, Nadal and Wawrinka did not meet at all in 2008, but they renewed their rivalry in Miami in 2009. This was the closest of their four meeting, with Wawrinka taking Nadal to a tie break for the first time, two tie breaks for that matter, but Nadal had a bit too much in the end (doesn’t he always?!), closing out a 7-6 7-6 victory.

Rafael Nadal in action against Wawrinka in 2009. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

#5. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 6-1, Rome QF, 2010

Nadal and Wawrinka did not meet again in over a year, but when they were re-united, back on Rafa’s favourite clay, the great man spared Wawrinka just five games in this quarter final tie.

#6. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 7-6 6-3, Toronto R32, 2010

Wawrinka came awfully close to taking a set off Nadal in this Rogers Cup meeting, but he came out on the wrong end of a 26-point opening set tie break, and went on to lose 7-6 6-3.

#7. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 6-4, Shanghai R32, 2010

Two months after that Rogers Cup meeting, Nadal and Wawrinka went head-to-head again on the hard courts of Shanghai, with Nadal earning a more straightforward 6-4 6-4 victory to improve his record over the Swiss to 7-0.

Rafael Nadal improved to 7-0 against Wawrinka in Shanghai 2010. (Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

#8. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 7-6 6-4, Monte Carlo QF, 2012

The battle shifted to the clay courts of Monte Carlo for the eighth meeting between Nadal and Wawrinka, and surprise surprise, Rafa moved into the semi-finals in straight sets, despite another brave effort from Wawrinka.

#9. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-4, Madrid Final, 2013

For the second time in their rivalry, Nadal and Wawrinka met in a final, and this one went the way of the first (back in Stuttgart in 2007), with Nadal romping to a 6-2 6-4 victory to claim the Madrid title for the third time.

Nadal beat Wawrinka to the Madrid title in 2013. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

#10. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-1 6-3 6-2, Roland Garros QF, 2013 

That Madrid final served as a preamble to their Roland Garros quarter final a few weeks later, as the King of Clay blasted out his Swiss adversary for the loss of just six games.

More of the same from Rafa at Roland Garros, dismissing Wawrinka in double quick time. (Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

#11. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 7-6 6-1, Shanghai QF, 2013

A bit of respite for Wawrinka as the match-up moved away from Nadal’s slaughter surface of clay to the hard courts of Shanghai, and keen to make the most of the opportunity, Wawrinka ran Rafa close in the opening set, but he fell short again, losing the breaker 12-10. That had a double-barrel effect, as the Rafa also succeeded in breaking Wawrinka’s spirit, going on to complete a 7-6 6-1 victory.

#12. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 7-6 7-6, ATP World Tour Finals RR 2013

By the end of 2013, Wawrinka’s late career surge was gaining momentum, and that was evident in his maiden appearance at the ATP World Tour Finals. It was also evident in his rivalry with Nadal, as he dragged the Spaniard to two tie breaks in their London meeting before falling just short yet again. The victory was significant for Nadal as it guaranteed him the year-end No. 1 ranking, completing season that had seen the Spaniard recover from injury to regain his place on top of the world.

#13. Stan Wawrinka beat Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-4, Australian Open Final, 2014

After going 0-12 in matches, and 0-26 in sets, Wawrinka finally claimed his first win over Rafael Nadal in early 2014, and it couldn’t have come at a better place. Competing in his first Grand Slam final at the 2014 Australian Open, Wawrinka looked at very much at home on one of the biggest stages in the sport, overcoming a mid-match resurgence from an ailing Nadal to blast past the Spaniard in four sets to claim his first Grand Slam title. Nadal was struggling with a back problem, but that took absolutely nothing away from a brilliant Wawrinka display.

It was 13th time lucky for Wawrinka, as he finally got one over Nadal at the 2014 Australian Open. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

#14. Stan Wawrinka beat Rafael Nadal 7-6 6-2 Rome QF, 2015

After waiting so long for his first victory over Nadal, Wawrinka made it two in a row when he beat the great Spaniard in the quarter finals of the 2015 Italian Open in Rome. The victory carried even greater significance as it was Wawrinka’s first over Nadal on the Spaniard’s beloved clay Wawrinka would of course, go on to win the French Open. 

Two in a row for Stan The Man! (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Defeat in Rome was also Nadal’s fifth loss on clay in 2015, and he had fallen out of the top five for the first time in a decade, prompting suggestions that his best days were behind him. Now we know better…

#15. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-1 6-2, Shanghai QF, 2015

Nadal ended his run of two straight defeats against Wawrinka in emphatic fashion, dismissing the Swiss for the loss of just three games in this Shanghai quarter final. The Spaniard had suffered a disappointing season, struggling with form and confidence, but he produced one of his best performances of the year to beat Wawrinka, his first over a top five player in over a year.

#16. Stan Wawrinka beat Rafael 7-6 7-6, Paris Masters QF, 2015

This had become a proper rivalry, and unwilling to concede dominance to Nadal, Wawrinka responded to that Shanghai hammering in Paris, besting the Spaniard in two tie breaks

#17. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-3 6-2, ATP World Tour Finals, RR

Nadal had the final say in his 2015 see-saw with Wawrinka, taking down the Swiss in the World Tour Finals to even the rivalry 2-2 for the season.

Back on track: Nadal beat Wawrinka in London to even their 2015 series at 2-2. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

#18. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-1 6-4 Monte Carlo QF, 2016

Nadal secured back-to-back wins over Wawrinka for the first time in over three years, easing past the Swiss 6-1 6-4 in the Monte Carlo quarter finals in 2016.

#19. Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-3 6-1

Nadal made it three straight wins over Wawrinka at Roland Garros, blowing away the Swiss to complete La Decima- his tenth French Open title, and 15th major overall, and first in three years.

La Decima. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Their careers have gone in opposite directions since then, with Rafa going on to become No. 1 in the world, while Wawrinka missed the second half of the 2017, and continues to struggle for form after multiple knee surgeries.

The Swiss goes into Thursday’s Montreal meeting as the firm underdog, but he has already claimed back-to-back wins in Canada, his first since February. Can he possibly take out Rafa to end a run of three straight losses against the world No. 1? Unlikely.

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Rafael Nadal vs Stan Wawrinka: A rivalry of two halves

Ahead of the latest meeting between Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, we look back at the rivalry between the two. Nadal dominated the first half, but Wawrinka has been making a better feast of the match-up lately.

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