Stanislas Wawrinka outpaced an injury-hit Rafael Nadal to claim his first Grand Slam title in his first appearance in a Majors final in Melbourne.
The Swiss, 28, overcame the struggling top seed 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to win the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup in Melbourne while also bringing to an end any hopes of the Spaniard equaling Pete Sampras’ haul of 14 majors titles before the french Open.
He becomes the first man outside the big four of Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to win a Grand Slam since juan Martin Del Potro at the 2009 US Open.
“I still think that I’m dreaming,” said Wawrinka. “It’s a strange feeling. I saw so many finals. I always try to watch the finals of Grand Slams because that’s where the best players are playing.
“Before today, for me it wasn’t a dream. I never expected to play a final. I never expected to win a Grand Slam. And right now I just did it.”
Nadal revealed he felt a back problem in the warm-up to Sunday’s final and it deteriorated in the course of the game.
And while Wawrinka opened the match in a scintillating fashion, forcing the 27-year-old Spaniard to struggle over the course of two hours and 21 minutes, fans thought it was just a game plan from Nadal to destabilise the Swiss, but at two sets down and signalling for a medical time out; it was obvious something was wrong.
“It is a tournament that I really had some troubles physically in my career and is something that is painful for me,” said Nadal.
“But that’s part of life. That’s part of sport. It’s not the end of the world. Is just another tough moment.”
“The last thing that I wanted to do was retire. No, I hate to do that, especially in a final.”
Nadal didn’t quit but staged a remarkable recovery in the third set. he hit back from a break down in the fourth, but a forehand winner gave Wawrinka the decisive break at 5-3 and he served out the biggest win of his life with a love game.
“It’s not the moment to talk about that. It’s the moment to congratulate Stan. He’s playing unbelievable. He really deserved to win that title,” continued the 13-time Grand Slam champion, who was hoping to become the only player to win all four majors at least twice on Sunday.
From world number eight to the number three and becoming the highest-ranked Swiss, Wawrinka’s story has changed following a first time victory in a Grand Slam final.
He added: “I will need time to realise 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 never expect to win a Grand Slam. I never dream about that because for me, I was not good enough to beat those guy.”
“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.”