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00-Stan Ready To Turn The Tables On Nadal

Melbourne, Australia

Wawrinka© Getty ImagesStanislas Wawrinka is ready to play in his first Grand Slam final.

As he prepares to contest his first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, losing records are not a worrisome factor for Stanislas Wawrinka, it would seem. The Swiss overturned a 14-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic in a thrilling five-set victory in the quarter-finals. Now, faced with a 0-12 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Rafael Nadal in the final, Wawrinka is unfazed.

Indeed, the tattoo Wawrinka had imprinted down his left forearm in March 2013 reads, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” It’s a philosophy that has paid dividends for Wawrinka in the past 12 months.

“Before, to beat Djokovic, it was the same,” said Wawrinka, who followed up with victory over Tomas Berdych in Thursday’s semi-finals. “Just the fact that I'm always trying and I always think that I can change the statistics, that's positive.

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“I think [Nadal is] playing for sure some of his best tennis. Especially when you have to play the night session here, it's a little bit slower. He can really play his game and try to play aggressive. I played him so many times, lost so many times, but I’m 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.”

In an era where Grand Slam glory has been dominated by Roger Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and now Andy Murray, Wawrinka’s rise to the Top 10 and Grand Slam contender status at the age of 28 has been remarkable. The potential was always there, and Swedish coach, Magnus Norman, a former World No. 2 and Roland Garros runner-up, has uncorked it.

“We have a good rhythm together,” said Wawrinka on Saturday at Melbourne Park. “He's really good because during every practice, even every warm-up, he's always behind me and trying to push me and show me how to improve, how to keep going. He always wants more. So it's great for me that I have someone behind me always trying to show me the way to being a better player.

“Especially as a player, I have more confidence in myself. I know that when I go on court I can beat almost everybody, even on the big stage like in a Grand Slam semi-final now. So for sure it's a lot about confidence, especially with my game when I'm playing quite fast from the baseline, trying to always be aggressive. I take a lot of risks sometimes, so it's important to be really fresh and relaxed in my head.”

Just how does Wawrinka plan to stay relaxed in his head as he prepares to walk out onto Rod Laver Arena at 7:30pm on Sunday night for the biggest match of his life?

“I'm going to keep my routine,” said the Swiss, who, as a big fan of James Bond, went to the 007 exhibition in Melbourne on Friday. “Try to come early to practice, take time to have dinner here, then listen to some music, being alone a little bit, like I had before the semi-final. When I'm nervous, I like to take time some for me with my music and just relax a little bit. So that's quite simple.”

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