Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka poses with the trophy on the banks of the Yarra river, 27 January. Reuters
Stanislas Wawrinka might have won his first Grand Slam title, beating the great Rafael Nadal in the final of the Australian Open, when the Spaniard was far from his fighting best physically, but as far as the Swiss is concerned, the victory was more that deserved, considering he beat two of the best players in the world.
Wawrinka created a major upset by toppling world number one Nadal in the final at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday, dropping just a set on his way to his Major glory while also jumping up to number three in the rankings.
"It's quite crazy what's happening right now," Wawrinka said. "I never expected to win a Grand Slam. I never dreamt about that because for me, I was not good enough to beat those guys.
"To win a slam, to be No. 3 in the world, both for me is a big surprise. 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 an amazing feeling. I saw Roger [Federer] winning so many Grand Slam 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 [Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Federer, Andy Murray] who was winning all the Grand Slams.
"So, yeah, I will need time to realize what I did in these two weeks. Because at the end, even if Rafa was injured, 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."
One will never know how the match would have panned out had Nadal not been carrying an injury, even if it is pretty clear that the Spaniard is near unstoppable when he is 100 percent healthy and fit.
Nadal, though, the gentleman that he is, insisted on keeping the focus on the winner, rather than highlighting his own injury worries.
"The back, since the beginning I felt a little bit, from the warmup," Nadal, who was nearly in tears after the loss, said. "It was a little bit worse in the first set. End of the first set, I start to feel even worse.
"Then at the beginning of the second was the key moment that I felt, during a serve in a bad movement, is very stiff, very bad.
"That's not the real moment to talk about that. It is the moment to congratulate Stan. He's playing unbelievable. He really deserves to win that title. I am very happy for him. He's a great, great guy. He's a good friend of mine. I am really happy for him.
"So just congratulate him for everything. He had a great year last year and start the New Year winning two titles is just amazing. So congratulations."
Wawrinka was coming off his best season in 2013, before underlining his status as a potential threat by winning the Chennai Open at the start of the month. The Swiss blew away Djokovic in the quarterfinals, before showing his class against Tomas Berdych.
Even if he came into the final as the underdog, you always felt Wawrinka had a chance, particularly if Nadal's injury issues continued to plague him.
"To be honest, I don't realize that I have won the Australian Open," Wawrinka added. I'm still thinking that I'm dreaming. It's a strange feeling, you know. I saw so many finals. I always try to watch the final of Grand Slam because that's where the best players are playing.
"Before today [Sunday], for me it was a dream. I never expected to play a final. I never expected to win a Grand Slam. And right now I just did it. And especially the way I was playing all tournament, it's for me a big surprise to play that well.
"To beat Rafa, even if he was injured, I think I play my best first set during the match. I was ready to play four hours or five to beat Novak in the quarters, to beat Berdych in semis.
"That shows me I'm doing the right thing since many years. That if you practice well, if you work hard, you will always have a chance to be in a great position to play your best tennis."
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