Wawrinka beats injury-hit Nadal in Australian Open final
The Spaniard was beset by a back problem as he failed in his bid to claim his 14th Grand Slam title. Wawrinka won 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to seal his first Grand Slam.
The power of Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, the new world number three – and an untimely back problem – saw Rafa Nadal’s hopes snuffed out in the final of the Australian Open. After two hours and 21 minutes of injury struggle for the Spaniard at the Rod Laver Arena, Wawrinka claimed his first Grand Slam title in four sets, having hit 19 aces reaching 217 km/h.
After surrendering the first set to the eighth seed, Nadal was in clear discomfort as he hit a baseline shot at 2-0 down in the second set. The 27-year-old fought on to hold for 2-1, but was immediately forced off to the dressing room for treatment from trainer Hugo Granville.
With Nadal in the locker rooms, a war of words exploded between Wawrinka and match umpire Carlos Ramos (who had already handed Nadal a warning for a time violation on his serve). "If he goes for an injury time-out, you have to tell me what for," Wawrinka told the official, who responded: “I’m not going to, Stan, whether you accept it or not.” Ramos then sought out tournament supervisor Stefan Fransson, before referee Wayne McKewen finally indicated to Wawrinka that his opponent’s back was the source of his injury issues.
Nadal was a shadow of himself on his return to the court, failing to serve faster than 150 km/h and hitting second serves clocked at just 123 km/h. With his opponent seemingly on the verge of retiring, Wawrinka claimed an easy second set 6-2 in 38 minutes. At this point, the emergency treatment administered by Granville started to take its effect on Nadal. He began to move with greater freedom and upped the power of his serves, although he remained in difficulties throughout: Wawrinka enjoyed no fewer than 15 break points on Nadal’s serve. With Wawrinka suddenly losing his mental rhythm, Nadal unbelievably won the third set 6-3 and threatened to set off on an incredible comeback.
The man from Manacor was refusing to give in and held on in the fourth to reach 2-2, before succumbing to a break of serve that allowed Wawrinka to move into a 4-2 lead. He then broke back, but the Swiss showed impressive mental strength as he snatched a second break to serve for the match at 5-3. The 28-year-old served out to seal victory, before joining coach Magnus Norman in an emotional embrace in the box, Nadal also shedding tears as he received a huge ovation from the crowd.
Shortly afterwards, Pete Sampras handed the Sir Norman Brookes Challenge Cup to Wawrinka, the trophy that means he is the 2014 Australian Open champion.