Stanislas Wawrinka said he carried confidence into what could well have been a lost-cause Australian Open against the mighty Rafael Nadal and emerged with a stunning 6—3, 6—2, 3—6, 6—3 win on Sunday.
Wawrinka, who will move to third in the ATP rankings on Monday, had never won a set against the Spaniard in 12 losses. It all changed with the best possible timing for the underdog.
“I had confidence, it’s been an amazing event for me,” said Wawrinka, who had watched Nadal, his friend and opponent, play with a back injury which was felt during the warm-up.
“I came onto court believing in myself. I had to play the best game I had for the chance to beat Rafa. I was a little surprised to win the first set, but I ended up enjoying it all a lot.” Wawrinka said he did not check his phone for dozens of texts but was told by his team that Roger Federer had been trying to reach him.
Nadal denied the event an all-Swiss final by beating Federer — now down to eighth in the world — in the semifinals.
The winner said it was not easy playing an injured opponent who at times began to find form at Wawrika’s expense: “It was tough for both of us. This is not the way I want to win a match but in a grand slam final you have to take it.
“I hope it’s not too bad for him, he’s a good friend, I hope it will be fine and he will be back soon,” he added.
Wawrinka won the first two sets but misplaced his rhythm in losing the third. He came out ahead after three consecutive breaks of serve in the fourth set to finally achieve the dream win after two and a half hours.
“In the fourth I focused on myself, on the ball and playing aggressively, I needed to take control and not wait for his errors, which I did in the third set. I was more aggressive and that’s how I won it.
“Serving for the match there were a lot of things in my head. I had new balls so I had to worry about that,” he said after claiming victory with a forehand winner. “I knew how I wanted to take the match and I did it.
“I’m number three now but my career has gone with my own rhythm. My goal right now is not to be number one. I take it step by step. I want to enjoy this a little bit.
“I have Davis Cup next week but then I’ll take some time off. I guess a lot will change for me in Switzerland. But I’ll try to enjoy it.”