After his dominating win over number one seed Rafael Nadal, the tennis world is abuzz with fascination over the confident 28-year-old Swiss.
Who is Stanislas Wawrinka, and how was he able to come out and flat-out dominate someone of Nadal’s elk in the final round of a major? The answer is far from black and white–one could say he’s been long residing in the shadows of his much more famous and successful countryman, Roger Federer, but that still wouldn’t sum up his road to today.
Coming into this tournament he had lost his last 39 of 40 matches to the ‘big three’ in the tennis world–Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, the proverbial chip on his shoulder no doubt played at least some role in guiding him to a title. Wawrinka became the second man outside of the ‘big four’ (Andy Murray) to win a major in the last 9 years. Coming into the Finals Wawrinka had defeated Djokovic in a commanding 5 set classic, in which he got the tennis world’s eyes to focus solely on him.
Coming into the Final, his doubters reared their heads and turned up their noses, not even conceding to the notion that he could outlast the great Spaniard. Wawrinka had credited his confidence after he dispatched of Djokovic, but at the end of the day confidence can only take a player so far, the rest is all in skill.
The first set in the Final from Wawrinka was a stunning masterclass of what David vs Goliath is at a top tier level. Wawrinka’s assertiveness helped him ease through the first set, and then onto the second…was this really happening? Nadal looked to be a broken man early into the match, and then it almost ended unceremoniously.
After Nadal called a medical timeout, Wawrinka’s new ‘black swan’ mentality jumped into overdrive and led to him lashing out at tournament officials, demanding an exact reason for the game stoppage. After Nadal returned, the tennis world waited with bated breath to see the true extent of his injury. Nadal closed off the second set immobile and on the verge of retiring the match altogether.
But playing the best is simply that, playing the best. Despite the severity of his back injury Nadal somehow resurged and gathered enough strength to take the third set–was this Wawrinka’s reality call? Unnerved and nearing the finish line Wawrinka gathered that same prowess which had gotten him to this point, he mastered his serve and closed out the match without further delay. He had finally broke through to do what had been viewed as impossible.
Stanislas Wawrinka took the title in a dizzying 4 set shellacking, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
The question now is, has he unlocked the secret to reversing his luck against the titans of the sport?