Stanislas Wawrinka, who defeated Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych en route to this year’s Melbourne title clash, capped off his unbelievable two weeks at the Australian Open 2014 with a four-set victory over World no. 1 Rafael Nadal to capture his debut Grand Slam trophy.
The eighth seed Swiss served confidently in the beginning of the clash, whilst applying pressure on the top-ranked player to grab the initial break early on. He missed a couple of more chances to extend the lead before coming out to serve for his first ever set against the today’s opponent. The Spaniard suddenly produced a triple break back point, yet Stan bailed himself out with a couple of great second serves and moved one nil up after his third ace of the night (he scored 19 to Nadal’s 1 in total).
The 13-time Grand Slam conqueror – he won in Melbourne in 2009 – was unable to regroup and suffered another loss of serve in the opening game of the set two. While his rival consolidated the break, Nadal soon asked for a medical time-out. He continued to struggle with an injury even after the treatment and posed practically no threat to Wawrinka who eventually added the second break before creating a double set cushion.
However, he lost his composure in the beginning of the set three as the Spaniard converted for the first time in the match to give himself a glimmer of hope. Despite obviously not being able to play at 100%, Rafa somehow managed to survive the remainder of his service games, including the last one when he came back from 15-40 to peg one set back.
In the fourth set, Wawrinka made his entrance by holding to love and acquiring a double break point in the follow-up game. The top seed again escaped the scare, but his rival kept raising the level of his game and it was only a matter of time when Stan would make the breakthrough – he did so in the sixth game to pull 4-2 ahead after putting away a powerful down-the-line forehand. When required to confirm the break, the Swiss showed too much nerves and let Rafa back into the contest. Nevertheless, the 28-year-old Lausanne native immediately reinstated his dominance to acquire a new break and cruised through the final service game to secure a historic 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 triumph after two hours and twenty-one minutes of tennis on Rod Laver Arena. He beat the Spanish champion for the first time in thirteen matches on the tour and became the 36th player to win a major tournament in the Open Era as a result. Last but not least, Wawrinka will be promoted to a career-high 3rd spot on the ATP Rankings next week.
“For me [the Australian Open] is the best Grand Slam ever,” said Wawrinka right after lifting the trophy. “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.”
“I’m very happy for Stan, we have a great relationship,” said Nadal. “It was bad luck what happened to me today, but he really deserved it.