On Monday, when the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) releases it’s updated rankings, tennis world finds a new no.3 player in Stanislas Wawrinka following his first ever major victory in Melbourne. For the first time in his career, he will be no.1 Swiss after Roger Federer falls to world no.8.
Majority of the former greats and tennis experts picked the world no.1 as the favorite to win the final. But Wawrinka contesting in his biggest match of the career showed no nerves right from the word go. Though he was not making many first serves in his opening service games, he kept pushing Nadal to the corners with his big forehand to win the points. Just when Stan’s backhand was coming to the party, Rafa had a patchy service game at 1-2 to gift the early break to the Swiss. Wawrinka capitalized on the crucial lead and served out the opening set 6-3 after saving three break points on his serve. He broke Rafa in the very first game of the second set with his supreme authority in ground stroke exchanges. The Swiss consolidated the break with a solid service game. Nadal took a medical timeout after getting on board in the third game and left the court for five minutes to get a treatment for the back pain. Wawrinka had a lengthy conversation with the chair umpire asking for the reason why Rafa was treated during the middle of the set. That heated exchange made Stan lose his calm and he went on court with a great anger only to hold his serve in a minute to lead 3-1. Wawrinka’s focus was unrattled as he broke Rafa in the next game and followed it up with a strong service hold to move ahead 5-1. Though Rafa’s feet movement was fully restricted due to the back problems, he did well to force Stan serve for the set with his brilliant racquet work. Wawrinka held serve comfortably to win the second set 6-2 and took a commanding two sets to love lead. Rafa looked distressed after the second set and had treatment from the trainer before starting the third set. Though he was far from his best, some brilliant strokes from the middle of the court saw Rafa breaking Wawrinka early in the third set to take a 3-0 lead. The Swiss’s confidence and focus started to falter as Rafa was getting out of the trouble repeatedly on his service games to push the match to a fourth set after taking the third 6-3. Wawrinka reinvented himself in the fourth and kept the pressure on his opponent from the start. It went on serve till the fifth game. With Rafa serving at 2-3, aggressive Wawrinka sensed the opportunity and converted the half chances to gain the vital break. Nadal was not ready to give up and had three break points on Stan’s serve in the next game. Wawrinka couldn’t save any of them as Rafa broke back immediately to make it 3-4 on serve. In the next game, the Swiss’s controlled aggression unsettled Nadal on the baseline to be rewarded with another break to serve for the championship at 5-3. Wawrinka regrouped himself and served exceptionally well to gain three championship points and won the first of them rushing to the net with a blistering forehand winner into the Rafa’s backhand corner. Wawrinka raised his arms in joy and embraced the 2009 champion at the net before running to the player box for the celebration.
Stan’s keys for the victory:
-Clutch serving at the crunch moments with 19 aces for the match.
-Beautiful backhand and fantastic forehand combined to produce 53 winners.
Rafa’s horrible match stat:
-32 unforced errors to just 19 winners which is unusual from a great defender like him.
Trivia: Déjà vu
-Five years ago on the same Rod Laver Arena, Nadal denied Federer a chance to equal the great American Pete Sampras’s then record of 14 majors. On this day, it’s Federer’s campatriot Wawrinka who denied the same achievement for the Spaniard with the ‘Pistol’ Pete (Sampras) watching from the gallery.
-In 2009 French Open, Sweden’s Robin Soderling surprised the then world no.1 Nadal in fourth round in four sets, handing his only loss at that major to date. Soderling was coached by Magnus Norman, a former world no.2 Swedish player. Currently, Wawrinka is also coached by Norman.
Some interesting stats:
-With this win Wawrinka became the second man following the former world no.2 Croatian Goran Ivanisevic to appear in most majors before winning the first. This is Stan’s 36th appearance. Goran played 48 majors before winning that famous 2001 Wimbledon as a wildcard entrant.
-Wawrinka is also the first man in 20 years to beat no.1 and no.2 in a major to win the title. Also, the first to beat both Djokovic and Nadal in a single major championship.
-This is the first victory for the Swiss over a world no.1 player and also against Nadal.
-Rafa lost a major final to the player not named Federer or Djokovic for the first time. Drops to 13-6 record in the title matches at majors.
-The last eight players to beat Federer in a major have lost the very next match (On Nadal’s loss following the semifinal victory over the four times Australian Open champion)
I’m very happy for Stan, we have a great relationship. It was bad luck what happened to me today, but he really deserved it -Nadal
I’m really sorry for Rafa, I hope his back will be fine. He’s a great guy, a good friend and an amazing champion. It’s always a pleasure to play him. Well done on the comeback to No. 1 -Wawrinka
I wish I had that backhand. He is the real deal -Sampras on Wawrinka’s fantastic single handed backhand