Wawrinka Stuns Nadal to Win Maiden Slam Title in Australia

Hi folks. I’m finally done with my English teaching course and thankfully everything went well. It was an intensive two weeks which means I couldn’t blog about the Australian Open or hardly watch tennis. I did however catch some tennis here and there. I saw some of Roger’s matches against Murray and Nadal. Roger’s wins over Tsonga and Murray was particularly impressive. When the draw first came out I said Roger had a favorable draw because both Tsonga and Murray had been struggling with injuries and were not back to their best yet. Some people got on my case about it. Some people also got on my case for saying Roger won’t pass the semis. In the end I was well pleased with Roger’s result. Going into Melbourne I was quite negative about Roger’s chances after he lost to Hewitt in the final of Brisbane.

But when the Australian Open began I sensed a change in Roger. He seemed more calm and confident, and I attribute that to the presence of Edberg. Roger was mentally very good in Melbourne with the exception of the match against Nadal. But that was predictable. I said before the tournament Roger won’t beat Nadal and when he lost the first set I got up and left the match. I knew he would struggle to win a set from there on. For Roger to beat Nadal he has to win the first two sets and be a break up in the 3rd set, and even then it is not a given that he will win. It is what it is. But I said semis would be a good result so I am well pleased he did it. The loss to Nadal didn’t bother me because I expected it. I was very impressed with how Roger shut Tsonga out in straight sets. He was almost his old self.

Beating Murray in 4 sets was once again very impressive, even though Murray is not yet back to his best. I think the changes Roger made has been making paid off. The new coach, the new racquet, and even playing Brisbane I think paid off. The loss in the final of Brisbane was discouraging to me so it was great to see a different Roger show up in Melbourne. My belief that 2014 will be another good year for Roger is now restored. Even a slam title is not out of the question. Even though I was OK with Roger’s loss to Nadal, I was still dissatisfied because as far as I was concerned Nadal was the overwhelming favorite to win the title now. Not good! In fact I was so convinced that Nadal would win the title that I didn’t bother watching the final, even though I had some time off. I accidentally strolled into a restaurant that day and saw that Stan was 2 sets up.

Can you imagine my surprise?! So I started watching the match from the beginning of the 3rd set, and I saw that Nadal was just rolling his first serve in. He was also getting treatment for his back. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Stan couldn’t either because he started cracking mentally in the 3rd set with his first slam title in sight. He choked the 3rd set away but that is totally excusable given all the drama that was going on and what was at stake. I think he did very well to gather himself in the 4th set and cause the big upset. Nadal’s serve speed was starting to increase again and he is very difficult to put away even when injured, so Stan showed some big balls there. Of course Stan also beat Djokovic 9-7 in the 5th set in the quarters which was really the key win for him I thought.

It meant that no one can put an asterisk next to this slam title as he beat the favorite and 4-time Australian Open champ. It really was a sensational run from Stan and he is now well and truly out of the shadow of Roger. He is now one of the big players himself that can contend for more slam titles. So in the end the 2014 Australian Open ended up being a satisfactory slam for me personally. Roger is back as far as I’m concerned and I’m happy for Stan as well. But the most important thing is probably that Nadal did not win the title and a second career slam in the process. Had he done so he was on his way to surpassing Roger in no time. In fact there would have been people who already claimed he is the GOAT. Now there is no guarantee he will win a second career slam. The one thing about Nadal’s resume that can be criticized is that it is unbalanced towards clay court results.

If he wins a second career slam, something not even Roger could do, that imbalance goes out of the window. So this loss was a big blow to him. It’s always hard to predict with Nadal but I wouldn’t be surprised if from here on he slumps again, while at the same time Roger keeps rising. That’s the way it usually works anyway. If Roger could win one more slam this year while Nadal slumps it could do wonders for him in the GOAT debate. In the end the Fedal GOAT debate will probably be very close anyway. It’s like Roger said when they once asked who is better between him and Nadal. He said we will probably never know. Roger usually get these kind of things right but it’s fun to follow this race to GOATness anyway. There is a long way to go still!

Highlights:

Posted in Uncategorized.

29 Comments

  1. Hi Ru-an, good news that you finished your course, hope all is good. I’m happy for Roger and Stan too, they both played brilliant tennis and you do believe Roger would beat anybody that day except doper. One thing I want to say and maybe people won’t agree with me, but here I go. I started to watch Stan vs Nadal with my wife and when Stan was serving for the set, I said to my wife, wait till he serves out and we will witness injury time… I swear said that, my wife was bit sceptical but I know Nadal as we all do, he can’t take big beating. Stan was playing out of this world and Nadal just had no answer. And people in Melbourne recognised that too and most of them started to boo Nadal and as commentators on eurosport said, probably first time in his career, well deserved think, finally somebody with common sense. He is doing that for years and people say how humble and great he us, I don’t think so. I was so annoyed that I actually stopped watching second set cause I thought that was it, fair play to Stan ti keep composure.So no i don’t believe he was injured a bit, his ego was. And then he didn’t know how to come back from injury time so put a cry show so people would pity him, nice try.
    I’m so happy for Stan. Just my opinion about injury

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    Some of us here share a similar view, Pete. In fact one of the Aussie match commentators (Fred Stolle, I think) said after Nadal got broken at the beginning of the second set – “Here comes an injury time-out!” And sure enough – right on cue! Anyway, we have discussed that issue pretty much to death already, so I will move on.

    I agree with Ruan that Roger showed some really encouraging improvement at the AO, although I felt the same old mental issues took hold of him when he played Nadal. His game really does come apart against the Spaniard. But it wasn’t always so (Wimbledon ’06 and ’07.) It can be painful to watch and it somewhat overshadowed his fine victories over Tsonga and Murray. Still, he’s good enough to perhaps pick up some titles this year, although I think a slam might be asking too much.

    Like Ruan, and most commenters here, I thought the title was Nadal’s and I didn’t give Stan much of a chance. He hadn’t taken a set off Nadal in 12 previous meetings! But as he showed in his other matches and against Djokovic especially, he is a different player now. He’s clearly in contention with the best. Could he win another slam? Maybe. He has the game for it.

    But it also shows that in sports anything is possible – however improbable. (Stan’s story was almost Rocky! Maybe they could make a film about his triumph as the underdog? There was certainly enough drama in that final!) Once again, Nadal’s hopes of replicating Laver’s feat of winning all four slams in a year has been dashed. Time is surely running out. We can see how hard a feat it is. It also shows what an incredible effort it has been for Roger to win three slams in a year, not once but three times! Amazing. That, too, is unlikely to be repeated any time soon – by anyone. Truly, Roger’s “glory days”.

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    Pete Reply:

    Hi Rich, good comment, I didn’t have time to discuss,, injury time in last week as I was very busy hence my comment today. Agree with you, it was very positive from Roger and I never get down when he loses these days, just respect him and hoping for him to play as long as he can be danger, clearly he still is, don’t mind Nadal.
    Have a nice day

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    V Reply:

    Can’t do much but agree with you guys.
    Nadal has been taking TACTICAL Injury Timeouts for years now that it is just hard for people to believe that he is ever taking one for a legitimate injury without faking it.
    It’s what it is but Nadal brought it upon himself so he is to blame not us.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right V. Karma spares no one.

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  2. Thanks Ru-an, great write-up! I wonder if you would have come to different conclusions if you had seen the Nadal vs. Wawrinka match from the very beginning. Anyway, story is closed. Nadal was in discomfort, whether physically or psychologically, or probably both.
    For tennis, this was a great tournament. A new Grand Slam winner, a resurgent Federer, and a still continuing GOAT discussion after Nadal failed to make another big step ahead. And as we speak, Federer decided to join the Davis Cup team, meaning that Switzerland plays with two Grand Slam & Olympic Gold medal winners! And both Spain and Serbia are already out by now. Could Roger/Stan add the Davis Cup to their collections? Would do Federer a lot of good in Switzerland, where it was always seen a bit critical that he did not pay attention to this competition.
    While I share certain concerns with Rich about Stans late rise, it does not bother me much. I don’t think he will become a dominant player, actually I doubt that he will win more slams. But he is for sure a contender, and I hope he will now have a few more years playing at the top and enjoying his own part of tennis history. I’m excited to see what the tennis year 2014 brings!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    No worries Chris. Thanks for the support. I might have come to a different conclusion if I followed the tournament more closely and watched the whole final. But I suppose being busy with other things gave me a new perspective and made me less of a fanatic. If you are all the time focused on tennis then it’s hard not to become a fanatic. The point was we have a lot to be happy about in this tournament and there was really no logical reason to be focused on Nadal and negativity. He lost and it was a big blow to him. Where is the need to give him any more attention? It just takes away attention from what Roger and Stan achieved. It’s really quite a simple situation in the end, but once one falls into the trap of fanaticism it takes you over and common sense goes out the window.

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    rich Reply:

    Hi, Ruan. I would echo Chris’s comment, that if you haven’t had the chance to see the full match between Stan and Nadal I strongly recommend it. I have never seen anything like it for sheer drama. It was like two entirely separate matches. Stan was unbelievable for a set and a half, before the injury break, and then when Nadal returned to court – minus his serve – Stan became paralysed with uncertainty. It was agonising for a fan to watch, and if Stan hadn’t finally regrouped you would have wanted to go and cut your wrists. (As Stan probably would have!)

    I said to Chris previously that ultimately it is just a game, and like you say, we shouldn’t become fanatic, but if we weren’t just a little bit nutty about tennis we wouldn’t be here discussing it. Anyway, let’s hope the next instalments are just as much fun! Hope the job-hunting is going well, by the way.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Rich. I just watched the AO final highlights for the first time. I have a better idea where you guys come from now but I haven’t changed my mind. Stan was unbelievable in the first set and the better player. Even at the start of the 2nd set. Then Nadal gets a back spasm and Stan looks like he’s going to run away with it. I then joined the match at 2-0 in sets for Stan. This is where things get really interesting because Nadal is hard to put away in this situation and Stan clearly feels the pressure. In the 4th set Stan fails to take his break chances and when he finally breaks he loses his serve again. But he keeps knocking and he breaks again at 4-3 and serves it out. Just a terrific win by Stan and a terrific tourney. Never mind doping. Just a fantastic performance.

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  3. Thank you Ruan for your post. Glad to know your trip went well. Personally, I feel Indian wells this year will be crucial. In 2012, the Goat beat Nadal and had a great year while Dull slumped. The exact reverse happened in 2013. I have a feeling the Goat will slay the bull and have a phenom year. Nodull may not have it easy at the FO this year. Allen Roger!

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  4. Hi, guys!

    I am back! I enjoy your views! Both Chris and Rich bring some very valid points. I’ve been thinking about this, and apart from this doping allegations, there seems to be something much larger that distinguishes the likes of Federer and Nadal – and it has to do with their overall philosophy.
    Federer has stated on numerous occasions how much he loves WINNING and how much he dreams of it. He gets all exited about it. He has stated on many occasions how he would be willing to lose many matches just in order to taste the glorious feeling of winning a Grand Slam one last time. He doesn’t mind losing because he knows that it’s part of the game. He knows that his time will come and he’ll RISE again. He knows that even in defeat, he keeps his head high and doesn’t shy away from the challenge even if the odds are stacked against him.
    And there’s Nadal. The ultimate warrior. The guy, who above ALL else, utterly HATES LOSING. He enjoys winning but not nearly as much as he HATES losing. He’s rather die than lose a tennis match. From that psyche comes this relentless pursuit of doing anything and everything to prevent a loss. He would use gamesmanship, illegal coaching, breaking the opponent’s rhythm, medical time-outs, etc. in order to prevent losing. And if he loses, there’s ALWAYS an excuse! Always! And if he can’t win fair and square, he either retires or he quits the sport for several months until he regains his “unbeatable” aura. That explains why he cried after the final. Maybe he wanted to quit and make Stan’s victory less worthy but the pressure of the world forced him to continue – and make the loss that much more painful. I think that nasty killer mentality comes in part from his uncle who is very unapologetic.
    To me, the worst time I felt this utter hatred towards Nadal was at last year’s French Open semi-final against Djokovic.
    Nadal was such a monster and he was on the ropes big time! And when Novak was serving for 5:3 in the 5th and he put away that volley after touching the net accidentally, you could see that nasty look in Nadal’s eyes and how he was pointing that to the chair umpire. That was giving an AD Djokovic and it was almost all over. But that nasty cheat-full look in his eyes stuck with me for a long time. The monster lived, I remember saying. He was not slain. Here’s to hoping that this year Djokovic or Wawrinka slay the dragon once and for all! :-) )

    [Reply]

    Rosa Maria Reply:

    Hi,

    Just remembering why Roger is the best.

    Today, his 10th anniversary for becoming No. 1, and some numbers:

    http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2014/01/5/Federer-10-Year-Anniversary-No-1.aspx%3C/div%3E

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    rahan Reply:

    I feel that the following article gives
    a Better Way Of Ranking The Most Dominant Tennis Players and proves what we all feel and know:

    Roger is the best !!!

    http://regressing.deadspin.com/which-tennis-player-was-really-the-most-dominant-in-maj-1507503924

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    Hiya Vily, you have been missed. Keep that stiff whisky on hand!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Lol..

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    Ken Reply:

    Couldn’t have said any better. I also hope that either Djokovic or Wawarinka finally slay this dragon Nadal at this year’s French Open once and for all.

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  5. All of a sudden it looks like Roger is extremely motivated for Davis cup this year. He’ll be playing QF in April against Kazakhstan.
    Of course with Spain, Serbia(Def. by Swiss), Argentina were out and Stan becoming a grand slam champion, Swiss has a great chance to win this year. Quarter Final draw is below.

    1. Czech vs Japan
    2. Germany vs France
    3. Great Britain vs Italy
    4. Kazakhstan vs Switzerland

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    OMG, the tennis nation Kazakhstan! Last time they beat us 5:0 :-( . They have Nadarov, Djokolieva, Murrashov

    [Reply]

    Michel Reply:

    It will be a difficult rubber for Swiss team as Borat will support and encourage the Kazakhs, even play for them if needed ;-)

    [Reply]

  6. Hi Ruan

    Happy to hear that you have settled down in Thailand. I hope the current turmoil is not effecting your stay there, new I hear sometimes can be a bit biased but I think all are good for you. I share the same sentiments as you about Roger’s 2014 campaign and Stan’s too. I am sure we are all surprised that Stan remain focus and played extremely well in 1st and 2nd set. Stan deserves it as he beat defending champ + 4 time champ at the same time stop Nadal from 2nd career slam. Bottom line Stan was very calm and focus regardless what was happening to Nadal. My wish for both Roger and Stan in 2014 – 1stly win DC, Stan to win 2nd GS by at least 2015 and Roger to win either FO or SW19. Both of them are in the right frame of mind and good condition bearing they remain injury free. I think this is a good year for Swiss tennis include upcoming Belinda Bencic too. Hopp Suisse

    [Reply]

  7. Hi Ruan,
    How ‘re you doing ? Hope you’re doing well.
    I read an interesting article that I’d like to share with the readers of your blog. Hope you don’t mind.
    http://tennis-column.blogspot.be/2014/02/federers-high-one-handed-backhand.html

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Wilfried. Funny I was just thinking of you. I’m doing well thanks, you? Of course I don’t mind the article. A bit long for me to read though!

    [Reply]

    Wilfried Reply:

    I’m fine, Ruan, thanks.
    As for tennis, I’m still kinda digesting the AO and wondering what the impact of Nadal’s loss may be for his career and Roger’s legacy.
    You know, Ruan, looking at Roger’s and Rafael’s career and their amount of matches played at ATP-level, I noticed something which struck me.
    Roger and Rafael both played the exact same amount of matches at ATP-level reaching the age of 27,5 years (age Roger reached at the end of 2008 and Rafael Nadal at the end of last year): 760 matches each to be concrete.
    Out of these 760 matches, Nadal lost only 117, while Roger lost 146 of his matches.
    The amount of slam titles is also the same at that age: 13 slam titles for each.
    Nadal reached 5 other slam finals which he didn’t win, while Roger was runner-up in 6 other slam finals.
    There are different ways to look at these stats I think.
    You could make a point for Nadal being more consistent than Roger, as Rafa doesn’t lose as often as Roger; his win-loss record is better than Roger’s win-loss record.
    You could however also make a point for Roger needing less wins or less preparation to win the big titles, because his amount of slam titles is the same as Nadal’s.
    What’s more, looking at Roger’s streak from Mid-2009 till February 2010 (3 additional slam titles and one runner-up), Nadal will have a hell of a time not to get behind in number of titles at the age of 28-29.
    I shall do some more research and analysis to get a better idea of what to expect in the current season.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for the numbers Wilfried. Nadal’s numbers is more impressive I must say, although Roger did make the additional slam final. And like you say Nadal is not winning 3/4 slam from here on. But I expect him to catch up anyway. In the end it’s like Roger said, we will never know who is better.

    [Reply]

  8. Hi all! Ru-an, congrats on passing your English course! Hope you’re doing well in Thailand.

    Congrats for Stan Wawrinka on such an amazing achievement! Downing the four-time and two-time defending champion is an incredible accomplishment in and of itself, to back it up and beat the world #1 in the final is even more amazing. He’s really come into his own in the past year, fulfilling his enormous potential.

    It’s refreshing to see an attacking player win a major title, and especially one with a one-handed backhanded. Of course, the Swiss must be over the moon. Fifteen years ago they had never had a male Grand Slam champion, and now they have two!

    Tennis needs these occasional upsets to remain interesting. If the same three or four people won all the time, it would be boring. (Federer is an exception because of his beautiful style of play; but if he had stayed #1 for 8 years in a row and won every title, even that would have eventually palled).

    It’s not clear Wawrinka has the desire to be a dominating champion and try to go for #1 and win everything. I think this is a bit of a crossroads for him, and he has to decide what he wants to do with his career next. It’s hard to sustain the kind of pace needed to be top dog. In the era of Federer we’ve been conditioned to expect champions to win consistently and be dominant day in, day out for whole seasons, but in days not that long past, even the best players had ups and downs. Even if he never wins another title, this trophy puts him in the elite 1% (probably fewer) of players who have won a Grand Slam–the magnitude of his achievement shouldn’t be underestimated, especially considering the caliber of opposition he dispatched for the title.

    Regarding Federer: I know people are still somewhat discouraged by another Federer loss to Nadal. But things are looking up. After a period of desultory losses to lower-ranked players, he’s picked up his game again. The new racket is definitely giving him the ability to stay closer to the baseline and be more aggressive. He did estimate that it would take him till about April or May to get back to his best level. And I think he is on the way up and has still a ways to go. So c’mon Roger!

    [Reply]

    Wilfried Reply:

    [ It’s not clear Wawrinka has the desire to be a dominating champion and try to go for #1 and win everything.]
    Stan has the desire to be a champion, I think, but he has less degrees of freedom in comparison with Roger Federer to do what he thinks he needs to do to achieve that goal. Stan’s wife attaches great importance to her own career as a presenter in Switzerland, and isn’t ready to follow Stan all over the world like Roger’s wife was prepared to do. So his situation is a bit different of Roger’s.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Didn’t Stan get divorced from his wife?

    [Reply]

    Wilfried Reply:

    Pictures of Stan’s little family on the internet suggest their back together.
    And wikipedia says about Stan’s personal life : “ Wawrinka lives in Saint-Barthélemy, about 20 kilometers north of Lausanne, with his wife, Ilham Vuilloud, a Swiss television presenter and former fashion model. They married on 15 December 2009. Vuilloud gave birth to the couple’s first child, a girl named Alexia, on 12 February 2010. On 4 January 2011, Swiss media reported that, according to Vuilloud, Wawrinka separated from the family to dedicate himself to tennis, having only five more years to make an impact. The couple has since reconciled”.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Steve I appreciate the well wishes. I think Stan will have the belief that he can beat anyone at any time after this slam title. And there should be no doubt left that he has the ability to do so. He is a late bloomer but he can have some more great results in the next couple of years.

    [Reply]

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