Wawrinka Wins First Major Title In Melbourne
Stanislas Wawrinka captured his first Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open on Sunday night as he defeated Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 at Melbourne Park. Wawrinka will rise to World No. 3 and Swiss No. 1 on Monday after becoming the 36th man in the Open Era to win his first major title in his maiden final.
"For me [the Australian Open] is the best Grand Slam ever," said Wawrinka. "Last year I had a crazy match, lost it and was crying a lot after the match. In one year a lot happened. Right now I still don't know if I'm dreaming or not, but we'll see tomorrow morning.
"It's quite crazy what's happening right now. I never expected to win a Grand Slam. I never dreamed about that because for me, I was not good enough to beat those guy."
It was a major triumph for the 28-year-old Wawrinka, who had dethroned three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in five sets in the quarter-finals, before topping Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals. The Swiss came out firing in the first set and raced to a set and a break lead playing an aggressive brand of tennis that Nadal struggled to find the answer to.
However, a back injury to Nadal caused drama for the remainder of the final. The Spaniard pulled up in the third game of the second set and after treatment off-court, was clearly impeded for the remainder of the championship match. His battling qualities came to the fore at the start of third set, while Wawrinka’s concentration faltered. But after dropping the third set, Wawrinka regrouped and returned to top form in the fourth set, claiming victory in two hours and 21 minutes.
"I'm really sorry for Rafa, I hope his back will be fine," said Wawrinka. "He's a great guy, a good friend and an amazing champion. It's always a pleasure to play him. Well done on the comeback to No. 1."
"I'm very happy for Stan, we have a great relationship," said Nadal in the presentation. "It was bad luck what happened to me today, but he really deserved it.
"It's been an emotional two weeks. I've very sorry it finished this way. I tried very hard. Last year it was a very tough moment when I didn't have the chance to play here. This year was one of the most emotional tournaments of my career."
Wawrinka became the first man to defeat the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds at a Grand Slam since Sergi Bruguera at 1993 Roland Garros. It is also the first time in his career that Wawrinka has recorded three consecutive victories over Top 10 players.
On his 36th Grand Slam appearance, Wawrinka is in second place for most Grand Slam appearances before winning his first title. Goran Ivanisevic tops the list, winning the 2001 Wimbledon crown in his 48th major
Victory for Wawrinka marks a culmination of the improvement he has made in the past 12 months. One year ago, the Swiss was beaten 12-10 in the fifth set of an epic fourth-round clash against Djokovic in Melbourne. It sparked a career-best campaign for the right-hander, who went on to reach his first major semi-final at the US Open, also losing in five sets to Djokovic, and made the semi-finals on his debut at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Wawrinka is unbeaten at the start of the 2014 ATP World Tour season, winning the Aircel Chennai Open (d. Roger-Vasselin) in the first week of the year.