Stanislas Wawrinka is set to establish himself as a potential dark horse for the 2014 Australian Open title and will be expected to cruise through his opening round match against Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan.
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Wawrinka, as World No. 8, is 76 ranking spots above Golubev who holds a current ranking of World No. 84. The 28-year-old is in form, winning the Chennai Open for the second time in his career last week. He was knocked out by defending champion Novak Djokovic, in a gruelling five-setter in the fourth round of the Open last year and will be looking to avenge that result as he comes into the tournament this year seeking his first Grand Slam title.
His opponent, Golubev is relatively unknown on the world tour, achieving his highest singles ranking of World No. 33 in October of 2010. The 26-year-old has never advanced past the second round of the Australian Open, and unfortunately for him, if Wawrinka has his way, he will not even make it past the first round this year.
The head to head record between the two is tied at 1-1, interestingly enough with Golubev winning their most recent encounter. However, that being said, the last time they met was back at the ATP World Tour Masters in Cincinnati in 2011. Since then Wawrinka has significantly improved and has established himself as a top ten player.
You can expect Wawrinka to head into the match feeling confident, knowing that he won’t have to face a seeded player until at least the third round. The hard courts at Melbourne Park will also suit the big serving Swiss, making it difficult for Golubev to break him. Depending on how deep Wawrinka can go into the Australian Open, there is also potential for the heavy hitter to overtake compatriot Roger Federer on the world rankings, making him the No. 1 Swiss player in the world.
Golubev will be making his third appearance at the Australian Open, while Wawrinka will be returning for the ninth time. The tournament runs from 13-26 January 2014.
Wawrinka and Golubev are scheduled to play on Hisense Arena at 11:00am (12:00am GMT) on 13 January 2014.