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.”