2014 Australian Open final: Hampered Nadal no match for Wawrinka

Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland kisses the trophy after defeating Rafael Nadal.
Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland kisses the trophy after defeating Rafael Nadal.
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Stanislas Wawrinka defeated an injured Rafael Nadal in a dramatic Australian Open final to win his first grand slam title.

Wawrinka was a huge underdog having never won a set in 12 previous matches against Nadal, but he played superbly to break that sequence and was in control of the second when the world number one suffered a back injury.

Remarkably Nadal managed to win the third set but Wawrinka eventually got his focus back in the fourth to clinch a 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory.

Pete Sampras had been expecting to mark Nadal’s equalling of his 14 grand slam titles but instead the American presented the trophy to Wawrinka.

The Swiss is the first man to beat Novak Djokovic and Nadal at the same grand slam, and turning to the Spaniard he said: “I’m really sorry for you and I hope your back is going to be fine.

“You’re a really great guy, a good friend and an amazing champion. It’s always a pleasure to play with you.

“Last year I lost a crazy match and I was crying a lot. I still don’t know if I’m dreaming but we’ll see tomorrow morning.”

Nadal had hoped to become the first man in the Open era to win every grand slam title at least twice, but that will have to wait.

The 27-year-old said: “Many thanks to Stan, you really deserve it and I’m very happy for you. We have a great relationship. Bad luck was against me today but you really deserve this.”

Although Nadal’s injury inevitably overshadowed the match, there was certainly no guarantee he would have fared any better fully fit.

Wawrinka thrived as the underdog and adopted an ultra aggressive approach, which brought dividends with a break in the third game.

The occasion seemed to get to him for the first time when he served for the first set and Nadal brought up three break points.

But the world number one failed to make a return off three second serves and Wawrinka ended his 26-set losing streak with an ace.

There was no let-up at the start of the second and by the time a run of 12 straight points came to an end, he was already a break ahead.

It was while Nadal was serving to get on the board in the third game that he appeared to suffer the injury.

He winced, held his back and doubled over in pain before leaving the court for a lengthy medical time-out. Wawrinka was furious that he was not being told what the injury was and entered into a heated debate with referee Wayne McKewen.

When Nadal came back on court he was loudly jeered by the Rod Laver Arena crowd, but the problem was all too apparent and they were back on his side as he launched what proved to be a fruitless fightback.

Li Na won her first Australian Open title at the third time of asking with victory on Saturday over surprise finalist Dominika Cibulkova. Li, the beaten finalist in 2011 and 2013 in Melbourne, edged a nervous first set on a tie-break but was imperious in the second as she eased to a 7-6 (7/3) 6-0 win. The victory gave the Chinese player her second grand slam title to add to the French Open crown she won in 2011.

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