Stanislas Wawrinka has won his first-ever Grand Slam title after defeating firm favourite Rafael Nadal in a dramatic final at the Australian Open on Sunday.
The 28-year-old Swiss beat world number one Nadal in four sets, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
The Spaniard had been heavily favoured to claim a 14th major at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, but seemed stunned by a ferocious start from Wawrinka, who roared into a two-set lead.
Nadal’s woes were compounded by an apparent back injury, which forced him off the court for medical treatment early in the second set.
At that point it seemed uncertain whether the 2009 Australian Open champion would be able to continue, and he appeared to be struggling to move around the court upon his return.
But as the match headed into the third set, the treatment appeared to have some effect and Nadal began hitting balls with more authority, racing to a 4-1 lead as mistakes began to creep into the unsettled Wawrinka's game.
Wawrinka had a couple of break points in the ninth game but Nadal served out for the third set and took the final into a fourth set.
The Swiss seemed to rediscover some of his early form, however, and slammed home a big forehand winner to take a 4-2 lead in the fourth set and move within sight of the championship.
Nadal broke back after three break points in the next service game with a string of errors from the nervy Wawrinka.
But Wawrinka broke Nadal again and he served it out authoritatively, winning the title with a forehand.
It was a stunning win for Wawrinka, who had not beaten Nadal in their previous 12 matches.
Wawrinka's previous best showing in a Grand Slam tournament was a semi-final appearance in last year’s US Open, losing to Novak Djokovic.
For Nadal, his bad luck with injuries in Melbourne continues.
He missed the 2006 and 2013 editions through injury, had to retire injured in his quarterfinal against Andy Murray in 2010, and in 2011 was hit by a muscle strain during his quarterfinal defeat to David Ferrer.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-01-26