AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2014
Wawrinka's Crowning Glory
by James Buddell|
Stanislas Wawrinka never expected to reach a Grand Slam championship final, let alone lift a trophy.
In his 13-season pro career, the Swiss had watched many of the sport’s grandest finals, but ahead of the Australian Open final, he started to contemplate: 'Stan Wawrinka, Grand Slam champion'.
“I still think that I'm dreaming,” said Wawrinka, after his 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in Melbourne. “It's a strange feeling. I saw so many finals. I always try to watch the final of Grand Slam because that's where the best player is playing. Before today, for me, [it] wasn't a dream. I never expected to play a final.
“It’s quite crazy what's happening right now. I never expected to win a Grand Slam. I never dreamed about that because, for me, I was not good enough to beat those guys.”
Having outclassed four-time champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals and Nadal for the title, Wawrinka will rise to a career-high of No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
“To beat Rafa today, even if he was injured, I think I played my best first set during the match,” said the new Swiss No. 1. “I was ready to play four hours or five to beat Novak in the quarters, to beat Berdych in semis. That showed me [that] I'm doing the right thing [over] many years. That if you practise well, if you work hard, you will always have a chance to be in a great position to play your best tennis.”
By winning the Australian Open, his sixth tour-level title, Wawrinka has stepped out of the shadows of his compatriot, and great friend, 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, who spoke to him briefly on the telephone shortly after his victory.
“To win a [Grand] Slam, to be No. 3, both is a big surprise. I saw Roger winning so many Grand Slams in the past, so now it's my turn to win one. If you look [at] the 10 past years, except [Juan Martin] del Potro [at the 2009 US Open], it's only the top four guys who have won all the Grand Slams.”
On Sunday night, he strode onto Rod Laver Arena with the words of his coach Magnus Norman ringing in his ears. “He told me [that] it was important not to think about the result, but [to] think about the way you want to play, the way you want to win every point. What was important was to enjoy [it], not to be too nervous, not to be too focused, to enjoy and be ready for the match.”