Wawrinka Shocks Nadal in Australian Open Final

by John on January 26, 2014

Wawrinka 2014 (2)

Stanislas Wawrinka won his maiden Grand Slam title, upsetting ailing top seed and heavily favored Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the final of the Australian Open Sunday night. Wawrinka, playing in his first major title match, became just the second player outside of the Big Four to win a Slam since Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open. Nadal (13), Roger Federer (13), Novak Djokovic (6) and Andy Murray (2) had won 34 of the 35 majors since Safin’s victory. Juan Martin del Potro, the lone interloper, won the U.S. Open in 2009. Wawrinka, who knocked out No. 2 seed and three-time defending champion Djokovic in the quarterfinals, blasted past Nadal in the first set with a barrage of heavy hitting. Winning a set alone was a major accomplishment for the eighth-seeded Swiss. Not only was Wawrinka 0-12 lifetime against Nadal coming in, he had never won a set in the 26 the two had played. Wawrinka kept the pressure on, breaking Rafa in the first game of the second set and holding for a 2-0 lead. It was then that things turned bizarre. In the third game Nadal began grimacing and holding his back after what looked like a routine forehand. He managed to hold, but left the court for a medical timeout on the changeover. Wawrinka, perturbed that the umpire wouldn’t tell him what Nadal was getting treatment for, argued with the man in the chair for the seven minutes Nadal was gone. When Nadal came back to continue play, a chorus of boos rang down from the Melbourne crowd. Wawrinka held for 3-1, with a struggling Nadal moving gingerly about the court. Nadal, only capable of spinning his serve in, was broken again. Wawrinka served out the set to go up 2-0. Nadal got a back rub from the trainer between sets and appeared revived, although still not hitting full out. He broke a befuddled Wawrinka in the second game and raced to a 4-1 lead. With the Swiss’ concentration frazzled with uncertainty about how to play a wounded warrior, Nadal closed out the set on his serve, giving a hint he just might be able to gut out an improbable victory. Wawrinka broke for a 4-2 lead in the fourth set, but surrendered it immediately with a terrible service game. The Swiss steadied and secured the third straight service break to go up 5-3, with the championship now on his racket. Wawrinka closed it out with a blistering forehand winner on his first championship point. “It’s quite crazy what’s happening right now,” Wawrinka said afterward. “I never expected to win a Grand Slam. I never dreamed about that because, for me, I was not good enough to beat those (top) guys.” Wawrinka will climb to No. 3 in the new rankings on Monday. “I’m very happy for Stan, we have a great relationship,” Nadal said. “It was bad luck what happened to me today, but he really deserved it.” Along with the championship trophy, Wawrinka garnered a new nickname: The Stanimal — a tribute to his gritty, fight-until-the-end style of play. He can thank fellow countryman Federer for that. Federer coined the term in a tweet supporting his friend earlier in the tournament.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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