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Stanislas Wawrinka stuns an injured Rafael Nadal to win Australian Open

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Stanislas Wawrinka becomes the first men's player outside of the Big Four to win a Grand Slam since 2009. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Stanislas Wawrinka becomes the first men’s player outside of the Big Four to win a Grand Slam title since 2009. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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:

Fourth Set

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.

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.

Win or lose, Wawrinka will be the No. 1 Swiss on Monday. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Win or lose, Wawrinka will be the No. 1 Swiss on Monday. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Third Set

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.

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.

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.

Second Set

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.

Rafael Nadal pondering his options. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal pondering his options. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

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.

Rafael Nadal grabs his back. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal grabs his back. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

First Set

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.

No one wins 27 straight sets off Stanislas Wawrinka. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

No one wins 27 straight sets off Stanislas Wawrinka. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

There it is. Wawrinka takes the first set. So in his 27th attempt, Wawrinka finally wins a set off the Spanish Bull.



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.

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.

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.

(Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

As far as nicknames go, Stanimal is solid. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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.

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.

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.

Rafael Nadal and Stainislas Wawrinka consider themselves good friends. (Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal and Stainislas Wawrinka consider themselves good friends. (Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

Ready? Play.

Pre-match

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.

Pete Sampras will present the trophy to the winner. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Pete Sampras will present the trophy to tonight’s winner. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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.

  • Published On Jan 26, 2014
  • 23 comments
    Magnum2014
    Magnum2014

    the rafa "injured excuse" is already a lame broken record...this is the reason why i stay my loyalty with fed...he get's beaten...period! no added (over acting) drama just to get the fans and media's sympathy. i don't know why media keeps on overlooking this and keeps on playing with him...


    i forgot the tournament but will never forget where djoker and rafa complained they will never play again because of the terrible surface (blue clay court...pls refresh me) "they say". for crying out load! just play! that's the reason why you're pro's to adopt the surface...stop being cry babies!


    My all time fave are still (not in any order)...


    Bjorn Borg

    Andre Agassi

    Roger Federer

    Pete Sampras



    tennisfan031
    tennisfan031

    "Injured" Rafael Nadal, Yes, we get it "Injured" is his first name. Cannot think of another sportsperson who has been so consistently playing the injury card every single time he loses and yet has the tennis media eating out of his hands and buying every one of his stories.  He did it when he lost to Soderling , Rosol and even Federer on the big stage.

    It is really unbecoming for a champion like him to take away Stan's moment of glory by claiming that he carried a pre-match injury when there was no sign of it when he was getting outplayed by Stan for a set and a half.  No other top player , past or present has been such a self centered poor sport in discrediting an opponent for his win.

    Magnum2014
    Magnum2014

    sorry to say this...but why every time rafa gets beaten in slams he always gets injured as part of the excuse? just look at wimby,,,

    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    Oh another Nadal "injury" haha. Wawrinka was schooling him and he decided to try and cheat. Lucky it didn't work. Wonder if Vinnie still thinks it is the happy slam :D certainly is for fans of great tennis and humility.

    bcrd500
    bcrd500

    Great win for Wawrinka but it is too early to re-define the top three players, on the men's tour. It is the history of open tennis that every few years a player outside the favorites wins a grand slam. Del Porto won the 2009 US Open and was considered the heir apparent to Federer, yet he has not played in a grand slam final since 2009 and was bounced from the Australian Open, in the second or third round.

    If Wawrinka makes another final this year and wins another slam, by the end of 2015, he will be a member of the elite club. 

    dorado
    dorado

    awfully quiet in here.  i guess all the nadal fans were out celebrating his GOAT status late last night, lmao!!

    mimadrid
    mimadrid

    Nadal always inspiring, never giving up, a classy guy and  a true leader for tennis. Hopefully this injury will not keep him out for a long time.  We need the top 10 in good shape. Wawrinka will grow up, he is young. Congratulations to him on his new world top ranking.

    mangstadt
    mangstadt

    All credit to Wawrinka. Even if his opponent was hurting Stan played excellent tennis and suffered a mental lapse in the third set, fearing that the Monster might crawl back into the game. It's a pity for Nadal (who I always support) but it's got to be a thrill for Wawrinka, who I believe truly has the stuff to win a few Masters 1000s and be a serious contender for the other slams.

    'Big Four' now needs to be redefined.   

    mimadrid
    mimadrid

    Nadal always classy and shakes hand although Stan was a baby cry during the injury break.  SORE LOSER!!

    RexReyanson
    RexReyanson

    it's too late to sound strong, but I think ( thought) Wawrinka had a good chance IF he controls emotions , kindof like what Dej. does , hard shots to Nadal backhand on key points. espec IF Nadal has one of those nights where his shots have too much topspin, land at the service line.

    note they say the surface has been redone for more speed & flatter bounce, opposite what Nadal would want.

    jess28
    jess28

    @tennisfan031yes, the media laps it up like it's new every time... amazing. selective amnesia.

    truth is, stan matched rafael and then some. the first points told the story as far as i'm concerned... stan was not intimidated and hit freely, pushing rafael's backhand in a way i'm sure other players will do with confidence now that they've seen the success.

    gotta say, as talented as rafa is, he's not the end all be all. the fact that rules are consistently bent for him (as challenging as his OCD is), the way the nadal team's sandbagging is rewarded in the media...well, it's sad. he is not the reason the sport is loved. they don't need to placate and enable for a buck...but that's what they're doing.

    well done, stan. here's to more champions like you!!!

    dorado
    dorado

    @Ace2020 funny how the "injury" suddenly appeared after he was down a set and a break, but he seemed fine when he was ahead in the 3rd set going into the 4th.

    Vinny Cordoba
    Vinny Cordoba

    @Ace2020, you mean Vinny, ace? As in me? Yes, it's definitely a Happy Slam. If you will look back at my posts, you will find that I said after Stan whipped up on the Serbian ham I was pulling for Stan over either Rafa or Fed in the final. So I am happy Stan won. Just as I am happy that your Serbian Djokester hero is now 0 for his last 4 slams, and that he fell further behind Rafa in the rankings. Good times all around!

    michellenevada
    michellenevada

    @RexReyansonthe only person who said the court was faster was Nadal. Federer, Murray, Djokovic all said it was the same. Someone always has excuses lined up for every contingency.

    mangstadt
    mangstadt

    @dorado @Ace2020 Nadal wasn't really that good in the third set but he won it beecause he managed to keep the points short and Stan was quite confused. Once Wawrinka put the steamroller on again, Nadal was finished. Actually, he was finished much sooner but hung in there for the audience, who had paid a lot for their ticket, for his rival, for the organisation and even for himself (his words).

    mangstadt
    mangstadt

    @Heath_Bell_Experience Stan is young considering that he's played about half as many matches as Nadal in his career. And he's finally managed to work himself out from under Roger's shadow. 

    Here we were speaking of the Big Four or Big Three, thinking nobody could break into that club, and now Wawrinka has proved us all wrong. Next up might be Dimitrov. Time will tell.

    jay0337
    jay0337

    @mangstadt @dorado @Ace2020 But the fact does remain that Nadal has a history of such injury breaks...When the opponent is up, he normally tends to slow the game down and/or call a trainer.....And normally that tactic does work since it breaks the opponents momentum and he comes back refreshed most of the time....His fellow players know it which is possibly why you could hear Wawrinka say "He does this all the time" and even the crowd booed him when he returned to the court(which was uncalled for). Although, I agree that on this occasion he might have been injured truly, but he has done this multiple times in the past....He is a fighter no doubt but he needs to do more start playing points faster (I dont think he gets enough time as he should...There is a rule in place and it should be applied) and getting on with the game if he wants to say he plays fairly.

    clt0002
    clt0002

    @mangstadt @Heath_Bell_Experience Yeah he hasn't played as many bc he doesn't get into the semis or quarters until recently.. This is his first taste of success somewhat late in his career. The Big Four is still intact. Everyone thought we Del Potro won the US Open in 09 (year?) that it was over and we were proven wrong quickly.