Tennis

Wawrinka: "I Deserve That Grand Slam"

Sun, 04 Aug 2013 20:00:00 +0000

Stanislas Wawrinka, who won his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, says he deserved the crown after his final-round win over Rafael Nadal, who was contending with a back injury. The Swiss will move up to a career-high No. 3 ranking when they are released on Monday.

“To win a Slam, to be No. 3, both for me is a big surprise,” he said. “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 [Federer] winning so many Grand Slams in the past, so now it's my turn to win one.  If you look the 10 past years, except [Juan Martin] Del Potro, it's only the top four guys who was winning all the Grand Slams. So, 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.”
 


Kubot, Lindstedt Win Aussie Open Doubles Title

Sun, 04 Aug 2013 19:10:00 +0000

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt won the Australian Open men's double title in their first Grand Slam as a team with a 6-3, 6-3 win Saturday over Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen.

Kubot and Lindstedt dominated from the start, fending off the only breakpoint they faced and wrapping up the final in just an hour and five minutes.

Butorac and Klaasen — who had an upset win over top-ranked Bob and Mike Bryan in the third round — upped their tempo in the second set to stay in touch, but could only watch as their opponents served out the match. In the first round, they beat local favorite Pat Rafter, who came out of retirement at the age of 41 to play doubles with Lleyton Hewitt.


Nestor, Mladenovic Win Australian Open Mixed Doubles

Sun, 04 Aug 2013 18:00:00 +0000

Melbourne, Australia (AP)—Daniel Nestor of Canada and Kristina Mladenovic of France combined to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title with a 6-3, 6-2 win Sunday over sixth-seeded Sania Mirza of India and Horia Tecau of Romania.

Nestor and Mladenovic, who won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title last year, fended off all five break points they faced and broke the Mirza-Tecau combination four times in the 58-minute match.

''Kiki, she's the best mixed doubles player. She really helps me out on court,'' the 41-year-old Nestor said. ''I actually have to cover less of the court, which is perfect for me, because I'm so old. ''

Nestor has won all four majors in men's doubles. This was his second Australian Open mixed doubles title his victory at Melbourne Park in 2007.
 


Australian Open: Wawrinka D. Nadal

Sun, 04 Aug 2013 17:00:00 +0000

I’m not sure what Stanislas Wawrinka expected as he faced the prospect of becoming just the second man outside of the game’s Big Four to win a major title over the past 36 opportunities. Whatever it was could not have been what happened on the floor of Rod Laver Arena tonight, as Wawrinka won the most bizarre Grand Slam final in recent memory, overcoming an injured but unyielding Rafael Nadal over four sometimes brilliant, sometimes ghastly sets lasting two hours and 24 minutes. 

The final score was 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. And the question lingering after Wawrinka cracked the final ball, a forehand approach winner, was: “Just how badly is Nadal hurt?”

Wawrinka’s prospects looked grim going into the match, even though he had knocked knocked out No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. For one thing, he was winless against the tournament’s top seed in 12 tries. Moreover, he had never won a set in any of those matches. To top it off—no, wait, not yet—he had been unable to convert on nine set-point opportunities in those 12 matches. And finally, nobody had ever beaten Djokovic and Nadal in the same tournament.

In other words, Nadal was not only in Wawrinka’s head, he’d built a McMansion there and moved all of his junk in.

Yet from the start, there were signs that Wawrinka had somehow managed to evict Nadal from between his ears – at least temporarily. Few first-time Grand Slam finalists have come out looking as calm, confident, and determined as Wawrinka. In what some would find a refreshing—and astonishing—plot twist, it was Nadal who seemed to fall prey to bouts of anxiety in the early going.

Thus, Wawrinka was able to draw first blood with a break for 3-1—the kill shot an unreturnable cross-court forehand. While Wawrinka has always been known for his heavy, punishing backhand, it was his forehand that had carried him to the ultimate round at this tournament.

With that lead in hand, Wawrinka continued to play assured, handsome tennis. He had another break point in the sixth game, and although Nadal survived it to go to 2-4, it was clear that Wawrinka had him on the run. In the next game, Wawrinka held for the 33rd consecutive time in the tournament. 

Yet that elusive first-set win seemed improbable just a game later, as Wawrinka served at 5-3. He got off on the wrong foot with a forehand shank right out of the Roger Federer playbook, then watched helplessly as Nadal attacked and pinned him down, 0-40. But three uncharacteristic service-return errors followed by a unreturned serve and an ace saved the game—and earned Wawrinka that long-sought first set.

My notes alongside that game count say, “bizarre.” But it turns out that in the big picture the assessment was premature. 

Wawrinka kept the pedal to the metal to start the second set. Looking unhappy and grousing over having been slapped with a time violation warning, Nadal lost a quick four-point game to start the second set. But he could at least console himself with the fact that three of those points were stone-cold winners by his opponent.

In the next game, Wawrinka grew a little tentative after building a 40-0 lead. He played two poor points but saved further stress as he served and bunted away Nadal’s returns with an awkward forehand volley. He led, 2-0.

In the next game, and with no forewarning, Nadal netted a routine forehand at 30-0 and immediately called for the trainer. He grabbed at his back. He bent at the waist, trying to stretch his lower back muscles. There was no interruption, and he went on to win the game for 1-2.

On the changeover, Nadal consulted briefly with the trainer, then disappeared into an on-site training room to get some work done on his back and, presumably, take some painkillers. The break lasted seven minutes and 15 seconds, and when Nadal returned—to a chorus of boos and jeers from the crowd—he didn’t return a single serve of Wawrinka’s in the next game. 

Nadal was obviously hobbled, so much so that over the span of the next few games the question wasn’t so much “What’s wrong with Rafa?” as “When is he going to walk up and tell Wawrinka he can’t go on?”

Wawrinka broke in the next game with ease, and then held for 5-1. Nadal was barely able to move, but his handicap was so enormous that it left Wawrinka struggling to concentrate and come up with a viable game plan. He won the set and broke Nadal to start the third, yet things went swiftly downhill for Wawrinka from there.

It’s never easy to play a guy who can barely move, and Wawrinka didn’t respond to the challenge well. He had trouble handling Nadal’s off-speed, slice serves and his own game declined precipitously. Nadal broke him for 2-0, and when Nadal held the next game it was clear that Wawrinka was mentally shot. 

Nadal went on to win the set, but what was most troubling for Wawrinka was the fact that Nadal was gradually becoming more mobile, more able to tap into his power. He was unable to serve effectively, his movement was still obviously impaired. But Nadal’s groundstrokes were beginning to find their mark, and Wawrinka seemed utterly at a loss for how to play. Consider: Even when Nadal was barely able to move, Wawrinka didn’t attempt a single drop shot.

Wawrinka managed to settle his nerves to break Nadal in the sixth game of the fourth set but then played an absolutely dreadful, error-shot game to allow Rafa to break back. That turned out to be rock bottom for Wawrinka, but he began to swim back up toward the light in the next game, breaking Nadal at 15 with a passing shot followed by an inside-out forehand winner. Reprieved, Wawrinka served for the trophy. 

By then, a subdued and dispirited Nadal knew that he could no longer forestall the obvious. Almost miraculously, he had managed to make some kind of match of the final, and that may help explain why Wawrinka did absolutely no dramatic celebrating when he won the match. He just jogged to the net, shook Nadal’s hand, and expressed his concern and condolences.

Wawrinka had taken the big step, he had become Stan the Grand Slam Man. And he did it with great class and some of the best tennis we’ve seen over a two-week span in a long time.


Stat of the Match: While he produced a boatload (49) of unforced errors, Wawrinka also managed to win 87 percent of his first-serve points.


Wawrinka Beats Injured Nadal For First Major At Aussie Open

Sun, 04 Aug 2013 16:00:00 +0000

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Stan Wawrinka added a win over Rafael Nadal to his list of firsts in a stunning run to his maiden Grand Slam title, extending his rival's injury-cursed run at the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 upset in Sunday's final.

The 28-year-old Wawrinka had never taken a set off Nadal in 12 previous meetings, but attacked from the start against the 13-time major winner and regained his nerve after dropping the third set against the injured Spaniard.

Nadal appeared to be on the verge of retiring in the second set, when he hurt his back and needed a medical time out, but he refused to quit.

"It's really not the way you want to win a tennis match, but in a Grand Slam final I'll take it," said Wawrinka, the first man in 21 years to beat the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players en route to a Grand Slam title.

Nadal was a hot favorite to win at Melbourne Park and become the first man to win each of the four Grand Slam tournaments twice in the Open era -- instead, his injury curse struck again. It remains the only major he's hasn't won at least two times.

"Rafa, I'm really sorry for you, I hope your back is going to be fine, you're a really great guy, good friend and really amazing champion," Wawrinka said as he accepted his first major trophy. "Last year I had a crazy match, I lost it. I was crying a lot after the match. But in one year a lot happened -- I still don't know if I'm dreaming or not but we'll see tomorrow morning."

Warwinka lost in five sets to Novak Djokovic in the fourth round of the 2013 Australian Open, in the longest Grand Slam match of the season. Djokovic went on to win his third consecutive title at Melbourne Park, and then beat Wawrinka again in five sets in the U.S. Open semifinals.

But Wawrinka avenged those losses this time, beating Djokovic in five sets in the quarterfinals -- ending a run of 14 straight losses to the Serbian player.

Now he'll move from No. 8 to No. 3. In doing so, he'll surpass Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam winner who lost to Nadal in the semifinals -- to become the highest-ranked Swiss player for the first time in his career.

Wawrinka also broke up a sequence of wins for the Big Four -- with 34 of the previous 35 majors going to either Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer or Andy Murray.

"Stan, you really deserve it," Nadal said. "Luck was against me today but you really deserve it.

"Last thing that I wanted to do was retire. I hate to do that, especially in a final. Same time, is tough to see yourself during the whole year you are working for a moment like this, and arrives the moment and you feel that you are not able to play at your best. "

Nadal has had a terrible stretch with injuries at the Australian Open, and has described it as his unluckiest Grand Slam. He won the title in 2009, and lost an epic five-set final to Djokovic in 2012. But he missed the 2013 edition during a seven-month layoff with knee injuries and illness, and his quarterfinal losses in 2010 and 2011 were affected by injuries.

"It has been a very emotional two weeks -- I'm sorry to finish this way," he told the Rod Laver Arena crowd. "I tried very, very hard -- this year was one of the more emotional tournaments in my career."

A possible retirement was looming when Nadal was serving at 0-2 in the second set. He bent over at the waist to stretch his back and then grabbed his lower back with his hand and grimaced in pain. His serve immediately dipped to 141 kph (87 mph).

When Nadal took a medical timeout after falling behind a set and a break, and returned to a chorus of boos without a shirt after 7 minutes, it seemed that an early finish was on the cards.

Wawrinka was aggravated during the time out, demanding that officials tell him why Nadal needed the break. And he came out aggressively to finish off the second set.

Nadal's serve speed dipped even further to 125 kph (77 mph) and then 114 kph (70 mph). The support in the stadium gradually shifted as the crowd saw the Spaniard battling to stay on the court.

His service speed improved in the beginning of the third set, prompting a fan to yell advice to Wawrinka: "C'mon Stan, no sympathy!"

By the end of the set, Nadal's serve was back up to 174 kph (108 mph) and Wawrinka's error count was escalating.

Wawrinka composed himself after an exchange of breaks in the fourth set to serve it out in 2 hours, 21 minutes. After a muted celebration, he consoled Nadal in the courtside chairs before getting a chance to hold up and kiss his first big trophy.


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