Nobody gave Stanislas Wawrinka a chance.
Pre-tournament, sports betting lines pegged him at 54.00 to win the 2014 Australian Open men’s title. For betting newbies, that means that a $100 bet on the Swiss would have netted a $5,400 payout—far cry from the usual suspects and favourites Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who were priced between 2.00 to 5.00 ($100 would have won $200 or $500, respectively).
This was neither insult nor disrespect, after all those two—along with Andy Murray and Roger Federer were the only players to win a Majors title since 2005.
In his match against Djokovic in the quarterfinals, he was priced at 8.00 in the money line to win the match. Again, not a slight to the Swiss but because of the Serbian’s streak—Djoke won 15 of 17 matches against Stan including fourteen straight!
Alas, the underdog won in their 18th meeting as Wawrinka hacked out the 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 victory in yet another classic between the two rivals.
Against Tomas Berdcyh of Czech Republic in the semifinals, the books started to notice. Wawrinka was the favourite against the Czech and was pegged at 1.74 to win the match. He delivered the 6-3, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) victory and booked a place in the championship round.
When the finals rolled— Rafael Nadal of Spain, Wawrinka had to take the backseat in the bookies line once again and was priced at 5.00 to win the match against the world number one. No surprise again, as the Spaniard took a dozen wins in a dozen match-ups with the Swiss.
Yet, the underdog once again delivered. Even before Nadal experienced an injury in the second set—apparently of back spasms—Wawrinka was already dominating perhaps the best tennis player in the world. Wawrinka took the first set rather easily, 6-3 and was leading 2-0 in the second set before Nadal left for a medical timeout.
Nadal returned some seven minutes later to a booing Rod Laver Arena and still a motivated Wawrinka, who took the second, 6-2. He finished off Nadal in four sets.
From the tournament’s 8th seed to a Grand Slam champion. Wawrinka became the first man to beat both the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players on the way to a Majors title since 1993. And he did it in his first Grand Slam final appearance.
Tennis’ Big Four—Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray—might want to make notice. Wawrinka has arrived and he’s not planning to go away from here on out.