Congrats to Stanislas Wawrinka, the man of the hour. At 28, the Swiss who’s been in Roger Federer’s shadow for so long finally broke into the spotlight after stunning Rafael Nadal 63, 62, 36, 63 to win his first career Grand Slam at the Australian Open Sunday night in Melbourne.
The 8th-seeded Wawrinka had never beaten Nadal in 12 previous encounters and never had even taken a set of the 26 they played. Nor had he ever defeated a World No. 1 in 15 tries before. But tonight was the night as Wawrinka overpowered Nadal early then battled the nerves and rode out a Nadal back injury to victory.
Wawrinka, a semifinalist at the US Open, finally puts on hold the domination from the likes of Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. He also becomes the first player ever to beat Djokovic and Nadal in the same Major.
Coach Magnus Norman is also making a name for himself. The former No. 2 led Robin Soderling to his shocker over Nadal at the 2009 French Open, and now does it again with Wawrinka.
For the win Stanislas earns 2.650M AUS and will jump to No. 3 in the rankings behind Nadal and Djokovic.
After winning just his sixth career title, Wawrinka met the press to discuss the big night.
Q. Do you feel that you played well?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I feel I play my best tennis during one set and one break. That’s for sure. I was feeling really good on the court. I was moving well, feeling really aggressive, and I play my best set for sure by far.
Then wasn’t easy. He get injury. I saw that. He wasn’t serving at all. He wasn’t moving during one set. Then was a completely different match. I had to focus on myself, to try to find the way just to win it.
I saw that and I knew it was really, really difficult for him. I was unhappy for that because normally that’s not the way I want to win the match.
But it’s a final. At the end I won in four sets. I think I finish well the match. Yeah, to get the win, it’s just amazing for me.
Q. You must have so many different emotions going through your head. Was it like a rollercoaster for you?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, yeah, it’s quite crazy what’s happening right now. I never expect to win a Grand Slam. I never dream about that because for me, I was not good enough to beat those guy.
During the match tonight was important. I talk a lot with Magnus who has been in that situation, to play a final. He told me it was important not to think about the result but think about the way you want to play, the way you want to win every point.
You know, was surprise how well I start the match. In the beginning, he was good, he was fit, he wasn’t injury. And myself, again, I was playing amazing tennis.
Yeah, then was the second match in the match. I had to stay calm with myself just to try to stay aggressive because he was injury, but he was still trying a little bit. Was not easy. I start to be really nervous because I start to realize that I could win a Grand Slam.
So it wasn’t easy. But at the end I just come back to the game and focus on what I want to do.
Q. Were you surprised by how relaxed you were at the start?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: In general I’m quite relaxed before the match, or the day before, the day of the match. I was nervous during the preparation, during the warmup, before to come on the court.
But then we talk with Magnus, with Severin also. They’ve been in that situation. What was important was to enjoy also, not to be too nervous, not to be too focused, to enjoy and be ready for the match.
I was more surprised about how well I was playing. That’s for sure. I was expecting to be little bit nervous, not to move so well, especially at the beginning like I did against Djokovic.
But tonight was just the perfect start.
Q. When you went up 4 2 in the fourth set, then you played that horrible game. Now it’s forgotten, but…
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: The problem is I didn’t play well because I was waiting for him to miss, and that was a big mistake from myself. Because I was nervous, I was like, Okay, miss, miss, make a mistake, because I’m not going to win the match because I’m nervous; I start to realize that I can win the Grand Slam.
But then I did two good game. I was moving better, just play aggressive, and I finished well the match.
Q. What is actually winning a Grand Slam like?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: To be honest, I don’t realize. I still think that I’m dreaming. It’s strange feeling, you know. I saw so many final. I always try to watch the final of Grand Slam because that’s where the best player are playing.
Before today for me wasn’t a dream. I never expect to play a final. I never expect to win a Grand Slam. And right now I just did it. And especially the way I was playing all the tournament, it’s for me a big surprise to play that well. To beat Rafa today, even if he was injury, I think I play my best first set during the match; I was ready to play four hours or five to beat Novak in the quarter, to beat Berdych in semis.
That shows me I’m doing the right thing since many years. That if you practice well, if you work hard, you will always have a chance to be in a great position to play your best tennis.
Q. When did you first hear Beckett’s words and what has that meant to you in recent times and tonight?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, a long time ago for me. I did a tattoo only one year ago. I had that quote in my head for a long time. It was part of my life, how I see the life, and especially how I see the tennis life.
Before today, I always saying that except Roger, Rafa, Novak, you always lose, especially every week. So it’s not easy because tennis life, when you lose, it’s tough to get through and to take a positive from a lost, from failing from a tournament.
So that’s how I see, in general, my career. I always go back to the court. I always go back to practice to try to improve myself and to give me all the chance to beat the best player in the world.
Q. Can you talk about Roger, what his support has meant to you? And have you heard from him since the match?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, Roger is a good friend. He’s for me the best player ever. He’s been there since so many years. He was struggling a little bit last year, but except that he’s an amazing player, amazing friend, because he always wants the best for me.
He’s always texting me. Even if he lost, like in the US Open, he was the first person to text me before the match or after the match.
Yeah, I didn’t call so many person, but my wife, my daughter, my sister, and Roger call me. So, yeah, was nice for me. I know that he’s really, really happy for me. He always wanted the best for me.
Q. In the match where much will be made about Nadal’s injury, did you feel it important to get the word in with your forehand winner?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: On the winner?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I don’t care. As long as I won the match, for me doesn’t matter (laughter).
Again, to be really honest, it’s a final of Grand Slam, so I’m really happy to win it. But it’s not the way a tennis player wants to win a match, because the opponent is injury.
But when it’s happen, you have to take it. It’s maybe once in my life that I will appear final of Grand Slam.
But Rafa is a really good friend. We always practice together. We have good relationship with his team also. He’s always texting me when I won.
So was strange to play him in the final. But I was really sad for him. I really hope that it’s not too bad for him because he was already injury last year, and he came back the better player in the world. He’s No. 1 now. He won so many title last year. He’s someone that we need in tennis.
So I really hope for him that it’s just something that happen tonight and he’s going to be fine for the rest of the season.
Q. You said before you didn’t think you were so good. It’s more surprising for you to win a slam or to be No. 3 in the world?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: To win a slam, to be No. 3, both for me is a big surprise. But I think more to win a slam. Because in the ranking you can be No. 3 without winning a slam. But now it’s both happening, so it’s a big surprise.
It’s amazing feeling. I saw Roger winning so many Grand Slam in the past, so now it’s my turn to win one. If you look the 10 past year, except del Potro, it’s only the top four guys who was winning all the Grand Slams.
So, yeah, I will need time to realize what I did in these two weeks. Because at the end, even if Rafa was injury, I think I deserve that Grand Slam because I won against Djokovic, No. 2; I won against Rafa.
I did amazing two weeks, and I was playing my best tennis ever.
Q. You had a long conversation with the umpire while he was having his back treated. Your language is French, the umpire speaks French. Yet you had it in English. Did you want us to hear it?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: No, I didn’t know he was speaking French. We always speak English together. But what did you hear?
Q. We heard it all.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: So you don’t need my answer.
Q. Why did you go on so long with him?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Because I just wanted to know what was the problem of Rafa. Because before he ask the physio for me, he was checking his feet. I didn’t know really what was the problem.
Normally when the physio is coming on the court, the umpire always say the opponent why he’s coming. He didn’t want to tell me, so I get pissed, and I think it’s my (indiscernible.)
Q. Were you surprised by the fact that the crowd booed him when he came back on?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, I think it was not that nice, especially Rafa. We all know that he’s a great guy, a great player. He’s always a really fair player. He always tries his best. He is always fighting.
The problem for me, it was not that he was taking a physio, that he left the court. I just wanted to know why, what was this problem, just to know for the rest of the match.
But, yeah, was quite strange that the crowd start to boo him.
Q. Was it difficult for you that you were the underdog so everyone was going for you in the beginning, then when Nadal became injured they all went for Nadal? Did that become difficult?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: No, not in that way. It was difficult to focus and to still play good because the match was really strange.
But, you know, I had two amazing week here. I think I had my best support ever in a Grand Slam. Since last year, it’s just amazing to come back here and to have that much support on the court.
Q. Are you still going to Novi Sad?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, for sure. Maybe you don’t know, but Davis Cup, it’s really important for me. I’m really proud. It’s a big honor to play for my country. So for sure I’m still thinking to go there. I don’t know how I’m going to get there exactly, if I’m still going to be alive after tonight, but I’m going to go there (smiling).
Q. How do you plan to celebrate tonight?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I don’t know. With my team, with my family. Depends what time we finish here, if we don’t take too much time of me. For sure I’m going to enjoy well. I don’t know where. Maybe just at the hotel.
There’s a big chance I get drunk tonight, but we’ll see.
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