MELBOURNE, Australia — No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka upset No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the Australian Open final on Sunday to win his first Grand Slam title.
Playing his first major final, Wawrinka blew past Nadal in the first set behind a barrage of offense. Winning a set alone was a breakthrough for Wawrinka, who had been 0-for-26 in 12 previous meetings against the 13-time Grand Slam champion. The 28-year-old Swiss then held his nerve after Nadal struggled with a back injury early in the second set that led to an off-the-court medical timeout and additional treatment the rest of the match.
Nadal said he felt discomfort in his back during the warmup.
“I’m obviously disappointed and very sad about what happened,” Nadal said. “But that’s life, that’s sport. I’ve really had a lot of great moments in my career. That’s a tough one. Just accept it and try to keep working hard for what’s coming.”
Wawrinka, 28, became the first player to beat both Nadal and three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic at a Grand Slam and the first player to topple the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds at a Slam since Sergi Bruguera accomplished the feat at the 1993 French Open. He also delayed Nadal’s quest to become the first man in the Open Era to win each Slam twice. Wawrinka will rise to a career-high No. 3 on Monday.
“It’s quite crazy what’s happening right now,” Wawrinka said. “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.”
Here’s Wawrinka’s remarks during the trophy ceremony:
Game-by-game analysis of Wawrinka’s stunning win below:
6:06 a.m. ET | Stanislas Wawrinka defeats Rafael Nadal, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to win the Australian Open.
Wawrinka plays a well-constructed, patient point at 15-all to win an 18-shot rally. At 15-30, Nadal comes to the net, Wawrinka puts the ball right at his feet and Nadal can’t get the volley over. Wawrinka seals the break with a big forehand winner down the line.
Wawrinka will serve for the title with new balls.
15-0: Big wide service winner.
30-0: Serve and volley and Nadal nets the return.
40-0: Second serve wide and Nadal sends the backhand return long. Triple championship point.
Game set match: Second serve, Nadal puts a short ball back, and Wawrinka hits the forehand into the open court.
Stanislas Wawrinka has won the Australian Open. Wow.
No big celebration from Wawrinka. Looks to his box and then puts up his hands.
Here’s match point:
No asterisks on this win for Wawrinka. He dominated Nadal in that first set and then stayed composed after Nadal suffered his back injury. He becomes just the second player outside the Big Four to win a major since Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open. Wawrinka will rise to No. 3, behind No. 1 Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic. What an incredible 12 months for him.
6:01 a.m. ET | Wawrinka breaks and Nadal breaks back, trails 4-3*.
Here we go: Wawrinka has 15-40 on Nadal’s serve after the Spaniard hits a backhand wide and a forehand into the net. And Wawrinka breaks on a forehand winner down the line. He’s two games from the title.
Unbelievable: Nadal breaks back at love. Horrendous service game from Wawrinka, who gifted three forehand unforced errors there.
5:54 a.m. ET | Wawrinka holds, leads 3-2*.
Wawrinka is back to leaking errors. Why not go to the net more? In the third set he went to the net just once. He hits two errant forehands and Nadal holds. The good news for Wawrinka is he’s holding serve pretty easily so far.
This crowd, which initially booed Nadal when he took that medical timeout, is now cheering him on.
In so many ways, this odd final — and fact 8 seed could win it — is fitting end to tournament filled with weird weather/upsets.
— Greg Bishop (@nytbishop) January 26, 2014
5:47 a.m. ET | Wawrinka holds, leads 2-1*.
No one has ever come back from a two-set deficit to win an Australian Open final. Still an uphill battle for Nadal.
Wawrinka starts with a decisive hold at love. Much better positive energy from Wawrinka. He earns two break points on Nadal’s serve with a beautiful inside-out forehand that he aggressively runs around. Great footwork there.
Wawrinka misses an easy backhand return on his first break point. Then Nadal unleashes his biggest serve in a while, at 113 mph, and Wawrinka can’t handle the pace. Nadal holds. So does Wawrinka.
5:35 a.m. ET | Rafael Nadal wins the third set 6-3, trails 6-3, 6-2, 3-6.
Wawrinka holds and Nadal tries to serve out the set, but two loose errors give Wawrinka double break point at 15-40.
Now it’s Wawrinka’s turn to let Nadal off the hook. He misses two returns off 105 mph serves. Nadal holds and we’re going to a fourth set.
I expect Wawrinka will still finish this in four. He’ll have some time to hit the reset button here on the changeover.
Wawrinka hoping 2 be 1st guy to d 2 top seeds at Slam since Stich at 91 Wimby (Edberg & Becker), Bruguera at 93 RG (Sampras & Courier)
— Matt Cronin (@TennisReporters) January 26, 2014
5:26 a.m. ET | Nadal holds, leads 5-2*.
Nadal definitely moving better now and Wawrinka is stuck not knowing whether to play aggressively or use more spin to move the ball around the court and get Nadal on the run. The indecision has slowed down his racket speed and it’s leading to errors that are giving Nadal too many free points.
5:20 a.m. ET | Nadal holds, leads 4-1*.
Serve speed continuing to notch up for Nadal. He’s back near the 100 mph zone. The two trade holds. Interesting times.
Meanwhile, a British reporter tells me he saw Toni Nadal speaking to the trainer. I honestly didn’t know coaches could do that.
5:14 a.m. ET | Nadal breaks, leads 3-0*.
If the trainer gave Nadal any pain killers, they should start to kick in now. He plays a good service game and holds. His serve is back up to the 90 mph range. Which isn’t going to cut it, but that’s better than serving in the 70s.
Wawrinka has to keep playing with power and precision. Playing not to lose won’t work. PK’s to kick in soon for Rafa…
— Katrina Adams (@katadams68) January 26, 2014
Nadal actually breaks. He’s trying to hit big and Wawrinka is playing very passively and loose. This whole ordeal hasn’t been easy for him to stay focused either.
Nadal holds and he’s up 3-0.
5:03 a.m. ET | Stanislas Wawrinka wins the second set, leads 6-3, 6-2.
Wawrinka serves it out with an ace and Nadal doesn’t shake hands. He walks back to his chair, head down, and the trainer is back out to rub down his back. It looks like he’s going to take his three-set beating and give Wawrinka what he deserves.
While the attention is on Nadal right now, let’s not forget the fact that Wawrinka took that first set before Nadal looked to have picked up this injury. He handled the occasion remarkably well and he got here by knocking out the three-time defending champion. If he goes on to win this match, Wawrinka will rise to No. 3 on Monday. Amazing.
4:59 a.m. ET | Nadal holds, trails *5-2.
It gets to deuce but Wawrinka holds. Just wondering what Nadal will do after this set. You know he doesn’t want to retire in a Slam final. Wawrinka deserves his match-point moment. Nadal is serving at 75 mph and hitting unforced error after unforced error now.
Nadal can still hit the ball when he doesn’t have to move. But he can’t serve and any movement out wide is labored. Yet somehow, thanks to a few errors from Wawrinka, he holds.
Wawrinka will serve for a two-set lead and, perhaps, the match.
Nadal sits on the changeover hunched over with his head bowed. You have to feel for him.
4:49 a.m. ET | Wawrinka breaks, *4-1.
On the restart, Wawrinka holds at love and Nadal isn’t moving well at all. He looks very emotional.
Nadal broken again. He looks like he is either going to take his beating in three sets or shake Wawrinka’s hand after this set.
4:46 a.m. ET | Medical Timeout
Wawrinka is livid with chair umpire Carlos Ramos because he won’t tell him what Nadal’s injury is. Finally, he’s told it was for Nadal’s back.
Nadal returns to court and the Aussie crowd, already behind Wawrinka, boos him.
Here’s Wawrinka’s rant:
4:39 a.m. ET | Wawrinka breaks, leads *2-1.
“[Nadal's] flat out being bullied out there right now,” says Patrick McEnroe, and he’s right. Wawrinka comes out and slaps winner after winner after winner and breaks Nadal at love. What? An absolutely incredible game from the Swiss. With a set in pocket, you can hit out like that.
Nadal finally stops a string of 12 straight points lost when Wawrinka tries his luck with a serve-and-volley attempt and duffs the volley wide. He tries it again on game point and this time it’s successful. Wawrinka holds.
Nadal is at a C-level right now, but what’s worrisome for him is that Wawrinka isn’t playing out of his comfort zone.
Drama: At 40-30, Nadal winces after a serve and he’s told the umpire he wants to see the trainer on the changeover. He holds and here comes the trainer. He’s going off court to get evaluated and treated.
4:24 a.m. ET | Stanislas Wawrinka takes the first set 6-3.
Nadal holds at 15. Now Wawrinka will serve to win his first set off Nadal in 12-plus matches.
Not surprisingly, it’s the worst service game of the set from Wawrinka. He hits a forehand shank, Nadal hits a forehand return winner off a second serve, an unlucky net cord gives Nadal the offensive advantage in a 50-50 rally … and Wawrinka is down 0-40. He hasn’t made a first serve in this game. Nadal lets him off the hook with three missed returns on second serve. Uncharacteristic mistakes, to say the least, from Nadal. He has Wawrinka on the ropes and doesn’t even get a ball in play? Shocking.
Wawrinka gets his first first serve of the game in and Nadal sends the return long. Then … ACE.
There it is. Wawrinka takes the first set. So in his 27th attempt, Wawrinka finally wins a set off the Spanish Bull.
Stanislas Wawrinka or how to win a set against Nadal with 38% first serves… #AusOpen
— Svenja Mastroberardi (@svenja_mastro) January 26, 2014
nobody wins 27 straight sets against the #Stanimal
— Tennis Tweets (@tennistweetscom) January 26, 2014
This is why the top guys like best best-of-five…
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) January 26, 2014
4:15 a.m. ET | Wawrinka holds, leads 5-2*.
The key point of the match so far: a 10-shot rally at 30-15 that pits Wawrinka’s backhand against Nadal’s forehand, and the Swiss gets the better of it. He gets a shorter ball he can step into and fires it down the line for a winner.
Wawrinka playing Djokovic like points! BH crosscourt, BH crosscourt, then pump the BH down the line! #winner
— Rob Koenig (@RobKoenigTennis) January 26, 2014
Trouble for Nadal a point later as Wawrinka has a break point for a 5-1 lead. Nadal saves it with a service winner out wide and holds.
Wawrinka holds to 5-2. That first-serve percentage is starting to creep up.
4:04 a.m. ET | Wawrinka breaks, leads 4-1*.
Well, how about that? Nadal plays a sloppy game, throwing in a double fault, a poor drop shot and not his best volley. Wawrinka thus breaks at 15. Too many short balls from Nadal in that game let Wawrinka take nearly every ball from the baseline.
Well, that was easy.
— Tom Perrotta (@TomPerrotta) January 26, 2014
Wawrinka finally finds a groove with his first serve as he tries to consolidate the break. He holds at 15, firing two aces and a serve-and-volley winner to seal the game.
3:57 a.m. ET | Wawrinka holds, leads 2-1*.
Big roar from the crowd as Nadal sends a forehand long and Wawrinka wins the first point. The Aussie fans do love an underdog and Wawrinka is a pretty likable one. Plus, he has a big, powerful game that is very fun to watch.
Third point of the game and Nadal finally gets a heavy and high forehand to Wawrinka’s backhand. It kicks up, Wawrinka can’t get on top of it and sails it long. Keep an eye on that matchup. Win or lose, Wawrinka is going to be icing that right shoulder after this match.
Wawrinka holds at 15 but got just one first serve in. He needs a big serving day.
Nadal, meanwhile, doesn’t miss a first serve and holds at love.
I love Rafa and all, but I am on the Stan train today baby!
— Alison Riske (@Riske4rewards) January 26, 2014
Wawrinka still not getting a lot of first serves in, but he holds at 15 with two big groundstroke winners. Other than the first-serve percentage, this is a clean start for the Swiss.
3:45 a.m. ET | Warm up
Nadal and Wawrinka take the court and the Swiss can’t hide a shy smile as the music blares and the crowd cheers. Huge moment for him and you can see the enormity of it on his face. I’m not sure that’s a good sign.
All this talk of “newcomer” Stan Wawrinka….guy is 15 months Nadal’s senior.
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) January 26, 2014
Nadal does his tried-and-true standing leaps and takes the court wearing his incredibly bright red shoes.
“You call it for me,” says Wawrinka, playfully telling the kid tossing the coin to make the call. Leaving things to fate, Stan? He’s definitely enjoying the moment and acting relaxed.
Darren Cahill on ESPN observes that Wawrinka has chosen the chair directly opposite Nadal’s box. He wasn’t happy with how vocal Nadal’s support team got during their last match, at the ATP World Tour Finals in November. “It’s nothing personal against Rafa or against Toni,” Wawrinka said after that match. “We all know, players and umpires, that Toni is always trying to help Rafa. That’s normal. That’s part of the game. But when it’s too much, it’s too much.” Trying to keep Uncle Toni out of Nadal’s line of sight? An interesting tactic. Toni has already received a coaching warning this tournament.
Nadal won the toss and elects to receive. Wawrinka ready to serve.
No. 1 Rafael Nadal will meet No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka in the final of the Australian Open on Sunday. ESPN will televise the match, which is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET).
Nadal, the 2009 winner, is bidding to join Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only players to win all four Grand Slam tournaments twice. The 27-year-old Spaniard looked primed for such an accomplishment in the semifinals Friday, when he pummeled longtime rival Roger Federer 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-3. Nadal showed no ill effects from the blistered hand that he has dealt with throughout the tournament, during which he’s also beaten No. 25 Gael Monfils, No. 16 Kei Nishikori and No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov. With a victory, Nadal would tie Pete Sampras for second with 14 Grand Slam titles, three behind Federer.
Wawrinka, on the other hand, is contesting his first major final, the second Swiss man, after Federer, to do so. The 28-year-old, set to pass Federer as the Swiss No. 1, upset three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals and beat No. 7 Tomas Berych in the semifinals.
The good news for Wawrinka is that he’s playing excellent tennis — like Nadal, he also won a pre-Australian Open tournament and comes into the match unbeaten in 2014. The bad news is that he’s never won a set off Nadal in 12 meetings. In their most recent match, Nadal edged Wawrinka 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) in round-robin play at the ATP World Tour Finals in November. During that match, Wawrinka was unhappy that the chair umpire didn’t intervene to stop Nadal from receiving coaching.