Rafael Nadal, hampered with injury since the second set, was dominated handily by Stan “the new Swiss man” Wawrinka in Sunday’s Australian Open final. Speculation was running wild as to whether or not Wawrinka would be able to rise to the occasion and possibly defeat Rafael Nadal on a stage that he had never before found himself. Wawrinka was entering the match having never won one single set against the world’s top player in all of their previous meeting, and also never having made to the finals of a grand slam event.
During the pre-match analysis done by commentators, Brad “BG” Gilbert, a famous tennis player whose career showed achievements far beyond his talent level and highlighted his understanding of the game, weighed in on the upcoming matchup. Gilbert highlighted some of the things that Stan “the man” would have to do in order to defeat the would’s top player on one of the world’s biggest stages. Chief among “BG’s” noted points was that Stan would have to “Stan and Deliver” with huge hitting as he had in both his match against Djokovic and his later Match against Thomas Berdych. Rafael Nadal, according to the “BG” and many others in the tennis world was going to be bringing much more to the match, however if Wawrinka could replicate the type of play that took him to the finals, anything was possible.
The first point of the match displayed what would be a preview for what nearly characterized the entire event. Wawrinka and Nadal exchanged blows in a heavy, drawn-out baseline exchange that saw the Swiss “Stan and Deliver” with confidence, winning the point. Although injury was not yet a factor in the match, Rafael Nadal looked to be playing a man in Stan Wawrinka that was very capable of beating him in his first Australian Open final. Nadal simply could not blunt the blows rained down by Wawrinka throughout the first set.
Rafael Nadal however, showed that he indeed is a top notch competitor, and a quick thinker on the court, refusing to surrender while Wawrinka was in unbelievable form. Nadal hung with his service games after surrendering a quick break, and found himself with three breakpoint chances as Wawrinka was attempting to serve out the first set. Perhaps this was the point at which Wawrinka truly won the match, when with nearly no first serves and at least 3 completely uncharacteristic return-errors from Nadal, he managed to save the game and in turn win the first set.
From that point onward, Wawrinka looked like he found a higher gear which Nadal simply could not contend with, and showed that when he his hitting his mark he can certainly defeat any player in today’s game. To make matters worse for the world no. 1, during a routine rally Nadal took a big swing at a forehand and looked to come up hampered. The Spaniard paused for a moment, grimaced, and bent down in obvious discomfort clutching at his back. From then on the finals took a most unexpected turn.
Shortly after coming up gimpy on a routine forehand, Nadal called for a trainer, and after the game ended he left the court for treatment. During his absence, a bothered Stan Wawrinka appeared to be having words with the chair umpire regarding why Nadal had left the court of play. The argument between the chair and Wawrinka became a spirited discussion with raised voices, with Stan requesting to know why Nadal had left the court and umpire refusing to provide an answer. The awkward and testy discussion continued for some time until a tournament official finally came out and resolved the matter with Wawrinka. After an extremely long injury timeout, Nadal returned to the court shirtless and was greeted by loud booing from the Australian Open crowd, yet another strange and uncharacteristic turn of events.
The strangeness did not end there. Nadal, hampered by what appeared to be a back injury, started to serve first serves that would make Murray’s second serve look brave. Shockingly, the Spaniard appeared to have better success hampered by injury than when he was at full capacity during the first set. Wawrinka could not find the court, and his concentration was clearly amiss as Nadal somehow found a way to win the third set while barely moving around the court. As the fourth set begun, it looked for a moment that Rafael Nadal had found just the slightest bit of belief that even in his condition he might be able to make a match of the engagement after all. Wawrinka however, although he had a few shaky moments in the fourth set, found a way to work through the nerves and frustration to finally have a chance to serve for the match.
As Wawrinka rushed out to a 40-0 lead in the final game of the men’s finals, it finally appeared like an upset was going to be recorded. The injured Rafael Nadal proved himself to be a world class competitor, however Stan “the new Swiss man” Wawrinka did “Stan and Deliever” once again, and this time it won him his first grand slam title at this year’s Australian Open.
Editorial By Daniel Worku