Rafael Nadal was humble in defeat as he addressed the press after his tough loss to the new top Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2014 Australian Open final. In a match which saw Wawrinka dominate the first two sets handily, the world’s top player certainly did not give up without an impressive fight. Rafael Nadal looked to be completely outgunned as the first set barreled towards the finish line, but even though he had almost no answers for the Wawrinka barrage, he somehow managed to manufacture three breakpoints as the Swiss was serving for the first set.
Perhaps the major turning point in the match, Wawrinka, working on three significant gifted errors from Nadal, managed to somehow serve out the first set. The effect of surviving three breakpoints and serving to win his first set ever against Rafael Nadal, seemed to send Wawrinka’s confidence soaring.
Rafael Nadal said that he felt great heading into the men’s final, and that he had no reason to expect any kind of injury such as the one he encountered. In the semi final match against Federer, Nadal looked to be moving extremely well, and was in exceptional form as he cruised to victory.
After having dealt with a hand injury throughout the majority of the Australian Open, it was an unexpected back injury which would do the most to hinder his bid for another grand slam win. It would be difficult however, considering Stanislas Wawrinka’s form, to blame the loss in the finals to Nadal’s back injury, and not credit Wawrinka’s incredible form. The world no. 1 did just that, as he humbly gave the credit to Stan “the man” Wawrinka for great play en route to his first grand slam title.
Nadal, in speaking about the Wawrinka match said that his back had been bothering him somewhat early in the match, but became a significant problem from the second set onward. Nadal however ruled out the possibility of a retirement and chose to soldier on in an attempt to make some kind of match out of the situation.
The Spaniard did just that. Using nothing more than a crafty mind and a drastically increased threshold for risk, the world no. 1 rolled in serves, took every chance to find winners, and managed to run away with the third set completely out of thin air. All of a sudden with a break in his pocket, Rafael Nadal, still looking somewhat humble after brutal defeats in both the first and second sets, now showed fleeting signs of belief as he reentered his routine between points.
The glimmers of hope however were quickly snuffed out as it became apparent that the world no. 1 was not regaining enough mobility to pose a significant enough risk to Wawrinka’s chances to win. The crowd appeared to watch on with mixed emotions, caught between excitement for Wawrinka’s seemingly inevitable breakthrough, and their desire to see Rafael Nadal make a competitive match out of the occasion. When it was all said and done Wawrinka’s hands were raised in victory, but the world no. 1 Rafael Nadal was as humble in defeat as he is cheerful in success.
Editorial by Daniel Worku