Rafael Nadal vs. Stan Wawrinka
Rafa has played the best tennis of his season since the US Open ended. Stan Wawrinka has posted his best year in 2015. Wawrinka won Roland Garros and posted a 20-3 record in Grand Slam play reaching the final 8 or better of each major. Rafa and Stan have traded Masters 1000 wins this fall. Both men have to like their chances of advancing to the semifinal round from their round robin, but a win on Day 2 gives one of them an inside track to reach the final four. Wawrinka showed he had closed the gap with Rafa in a tight loss at this event in 2013. In early 2014, Stan won his first major title by defeating Rafa in Melbourne. Stan has won 3 of his 4 most recent matches with Rafa after never having won a set off of el rey de clay (Bud Collins knows Spanglish).
Rafa tends to rebound well after a tough loss. Rafa says he is enjoying tennis again and has spoken positively about his preparation for this event. I think this match is pretty much 50-50. The surface slightly favors Wawrinka. My gut says Rafa wins, but my head says Stan wins. My head has been better lately than my gut.
My Prediction: Stan Wawrinka d. Rafael Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4