Stanislas Wawrinka will now rise to 3 in the World after overcoming a resilient Rafael Nadal in 4 sets. At 28 years old he is the second Swiss player to win a Men’s Singles Grand Slam title along with 17 time winner Roger Federer. Not only that, but he is the first man to defeat the top two seeds, (Djokovic and Nadal), in a Slam since 1993, when Sergi Bruguera did so at Roland Garros.
The first set was dominated by Wawrinka who looked nerveless when competing in his first Grand Slam final, hitting 12 winners, double the amount of a tight looking Nadal. The Swiss got the decisive breakthrough in the 4th game of the match and continued to look strong on serve despite making just 38% of his first serves in. Wawrinka looked likely to secure a double break when leading 4-1 but the World No.1 resisted and lead 40-0 when the 8th seed was serving to take his first ever set off the Spaniard in their 13th meeting. 13 was anything but unlucky for Stan though, winning 5 points in a row to win a crucial first set by 6 games to 3.
Nadal continued to struggle on serve, being broken in the first game of the second set, looking overawed by Stan’s incredible power and accuracy. Perhaps the pivotal moment in the match came in the third game as Nadal winced and reached for his back when putting a forehand into the net. There were real worrying signs for the 2009 champion as his service speed decreased rapidly as he dropped serve again and received an off court medical timeout, much to Wawrinka’s annoyance as he demanded to know what was wrong with Nadal. The 13 time Grand Slam champion returned to court but was severely affected by the injury losing the second set 6-2, but supported by the crowd and his competitive fighting spirit, Rafa wasn’t walking to the net for the handshake yet.
Nadal may have been struggling physically, yet it was Wawrinka who looked like he was struggling mentally and so suffered in the third set. Rather than playing like he had done in the first set and a half, taking the ball early and firing down winners consistently, Wawrinka became a lot more cautious and played to Nadal’s injury, rather than his own game. The Swiss tried to keep the Spaniard playing one more ball, but instead made 19 unforced errors himself and handed Nadal a first break of serve in the match as the winning line came into sight. A couple of break back opportunities arrived as the Spaniard served for the set, but 4 points in a row gave Nadal the set 6-3 to delight the Australian crowd.
The fourth set was the closest of the match as Wawrinka battled to win the set that would give him his first Grand Slam title, while Nadal continued to fight to stay alive with the faint hope of one the all time great comebacks at the Australian Open. Break point opportunities came and went for Wawrinka but eventually the pressure was telling, firing down 9 winners in the set and breaking for a 4-2 lead. There was to be another twist as just 45% of first serves landing in for Wawrinka came back to bite him, relinquishing the break as the pressure and anxiety grew for the Grand Slam final debutant.
Nadal was still struggling with the back injury, which he said had first become aware to him as a slight niggle during the warm up. Wawrinka broke Nadal again in game 8 and played a magnificent final service game, holding to love, finishing it off with a forehand winner to win the Australian Open 2014 title.
Wawrinka completed the match in two hours and 21 minutes winning 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, becoming just the 6th different winner in the last 36 Grand Slams.