Stanislas Wawrinka staged the biggest upset in a grand slam final for nearly half a decade when he put down a wounded Rafa Nadal 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 in a surreal Australian Open final to win his maiden major title on Sunday.
The record books will record a shock on a par with Juan Martin del Potro’s victory over five-times defending champion Roger Federer at the 2009 U.S. Open but it was a far more complex evening than that. The Swiss had started brilliantly to take the opening set of a match few had given him a chance of winning but the contest changed irrevocably when world number one Nadal pulled up with a back injury at the beginning of the second stanza.
After medical treatment, the Spaniard remarkably came back to win the third set and it took some time before the eighth seed was able to sufficiently regather himself to serve out for victory after 141 extraordinary minutes. Wawrinka sat on court in tears after receiving the trophy from Pete Sampras, who, if the pre-match script had held, would have handed it to Nadal after the Spaniard matched his haul of 14 grand slam titles.
“It’s quite crazy what’s happening right now,” said Wawrinka, the first player since Del Potro to break the grand slam monopoly of Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. “I never expected to win a grand slam. I never dreamed about that because for me, I was not good enough to beat those guys.” Nadal, top seed and holder of the French and U.S. Open titles after a brilliant 2013 season, did everything in his power to avoid taking the limelight away from Wawrinka’s arrival into the grand slam winner’s circle.
“That’s not the real moment to talk about (the injury),” said Nadal, who admitted his back had troubled him from the warm-up. It’s the moment to congratulate Stan. He’s playing unbelievably. He really deserved to win that title. I’m very happy for him. He’s a great, great guy. He’s a good friend of mine. I am really happy for him. So just congratulate him for everything.” His tears, though, told of the frustration of an ultra-competitive man whose path to a second Australian Open title had been blocked by injury for a fourth time in five years since his sole triumph in 2009.
The 27-year-old retired in his quarter-final against Murray in 2010, slumped ou while clearly injured against compatriot David Ferrer in the 2011 last eight and missed the entire tournament in 2013.
“I tried hard until the end, trying to finish the match as good as I could for the crowd, for the opponent, for me,” Nadal added. continued…