Giant slayer demolishes top 2
SWITZERLAND'S Stanislas Wawrinka claimed his first Grand Slam tennis title in dramatic fashion yesterday, when he upset injury-troubled world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final.
The eighth seed roared through the first two sets and overcame the distraction of a back injury to Nadal, and then the loss of the third set, to take it 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in 2hr 21min.
Nadal, who was chasing his 14th Grand Slam title, looked as if he might pull out with the back injury but fought back to take the third set and force the match into a fourth.
It was a stunning result for Wawrinka, who had never taken a set off Nadal in their 12 previous meetings and won his first Slam title with his 36th attempt, the second-longest wait on record.
"For me, it's the best Grand Slam ever. I'm enjoying very much to play here," said the Swiss, who lost in five sets to Novak Djokovic in last year's fourth round.
"Right now, I still don't know if I'm dreaming or not."
His win was a rare shock at the top of men's tennis after several years of dominance by the game's top four players. The last outsider to win was Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open.
At the post-match press conference, Nadal, fighting back tears, said he first felt a twinge in his back during the warm-up, and the problem gradually got worse.
He took a medical timeout when 1-2 down in the second set and battled on bravely, but his movement was restricted and the pace of his serves dropped significantly.
"I tried everything until the last moment, but it was impossible to win this way. The opponent was too good," he said.
Despite clearly being in pain, the Spaniard never considered calling it quits, even going on to take the third set.
"Last thing that I wanted to do was a retirement. No, I hate to do that, especially in a final," he said.
Wawrinka, who also shocked world No. 2 Djokovic in the quarter-finals, became the first man to defeat the top two seeds at a Grand Slam since Sergi Bruguera at the 1993 French Open.