Stanislas Wawrinka has won his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open against an injured Rafael Nadal in Melbourne after a hard fought match that finished 3-6 2-6 6-3 3-6.
Wawrinka took the first set after breaking Nadal at 3-1 and went on to win the set 6-3. For the first time in a long time we saw Nadal show anger and frustration at his unforced errors, which the Swiss seemed to take advantage of with consummate ease.
Wawrinka racked up three aces in the set, saving the best for last to win the set at a speed of 212 kilometres per hour.
Wawrinka started the second set in the same vein as he had done the first, breaking Nadal in the first service game. Into the break, Nadal took a medical timeout as the crowd saw him wince and reach for his lower back, an injury that no one knew about before this tournament.
This launched an inquiry between Wawrinka and the umpire Carlos Ramos, as the former demanded to know what was wrong with Nadal with no response.
Finally Nadal showed himself, at least a minute after the allotted time for the medical timeout had passed, however received no repercussions from the umpire.
The medical timeout didn't help at all and Nadal flopped completely to hand Wawrinka his second break of the match to lead 4-1. Nadal's trainer came to his aid during another quick break to see if he could help his competitor, who was in visible pain and looked as though he may throw in the towel.
As the second set wore on it was clear that Nadal was really feeling his injury, and this showed as none of his serves nor shots contained any of the raw power tennis fans are so used to seeing from the Spaniard. Somehow though, Nadal managed to break through the pain barrier to win a game but still trailed Wawrinka by 2-5.
The eighth game began but Nadal's movement appeared incredibly laboured and he lost the second set in a row 6-2. Again he brought the trainer out to take a look at his lower back.
Nadal experienced a resurgence in the third set and claimed the opening three games, as if he had relaxed himself and the pain killers had kicked in. The Spaniard looked as if he was coming back to somewhere near his best and took the third set 6-3.
In the fourth set Nadal looked to be hanging in the match and didn't seem to be in as much immediate pain as he had been in the second set. Wawrinka had seemed stuck in a mindset which meant he was almost slowing his game to compensate for Nadal's injury, but now he looked to have realised that if he was going to win he had to ignore the fact Nadal was a wounded man.
This change of mindset proved crucial and he broke Nadal at 4-2 and then again at 5-3 to serve for the title.
For the first time since the first and second sets, Wawrinka came back to his best and served ace after ace followed by a forehand winner to claim his first ever Grand Slam title.
It may not have been the best of finals, what with Nadal's injury early on in the second set, but all credit to Wawrinka for keeping his head and completing the job that almost eluded him when he dropped the third set.