DCSIMG

Don’t be afraid of big four - Stanislas Wawrinka

Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup in Melbourne. Picture: Getty

Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup in Melbourne. Picture: Getty

  • by ELEANOR CROOKS
 

Stanislas Wawrinka expects his Australian Open triumph to persuade other players that the big four of men’s tennis are there to be shot at.

The 28-year-old’s victory over Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final made him the first man other than the Spaniard, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray to win a grand slam singles title since Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open in 2009.

The quartet have also dominated the Masters series events, and their consistency has meant beating one is not normally enough.

Wawrinka got the better of Djokovic and an admittedly-injured Nadal in Melbourne, becoming the first man to beat both players at a slam and the first to defeat the top seeds in the same major since Sergi Bruguera at the French Open in 1993.

Wawrinka sensed a shift last season, and he said: “For sure some players will realise that it’s possible now to win a grand slam. I think all the top-15 players already last year were thinking that the four major guys, they were still there, still amazing players, but we had more chance to beat them.

“We didn’t win a grand slam but we were close. Now I have my grand slam trophy and no-one can take that back.”

Wawrinka has come up on the rails, claiming a grand slam title before the likes of top-ten stalwarts Tomas Berdych, Jo- Wilfried Tsonga and David Ferrer. “I always thought before that they were closer than me to winning a grand slam,” he said.

“Since Del Potro won the US Open, everyone’s expecting him to win another grand slam, but it’s not that simple.

“Those four guys are playing amazing tennis, they’ve been there every tournament, so to win a grand slam you have to play a perfect two weeks.”

Wawrinka’s triumph elevated him to world No 3 behind only Nadal and Djokovic. Murray is down to sixth and Federer finds himself in eighth, his lowest ranking since 2002, despite an encouraging showing in Melbourne.

Nadal, meanwhile, should recover from the back problem that wrecked his final chances in Melbourne after a few days’ rest, his uncle and coach Toni told Spanish radio yesterday.

The ailing world No 1 missed the opportunity to draw level on 14 grand slam singles titles with American Pete Sampras after losing out to Wawrinka.

Nadal needed lengthy treatment at the start of the second set, and hit back to win the third but Wawrinka eventually captured his debut slam with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 success. Nadal’s uncle told Cadena Ser’s El Larguero show his nephew planned to return to his native Mallorca from Melbourne before heading to Argentina, where he is due to take part in a clay event in Buenos Aires starting on 10 February.

“The doctor said it’s a tightening of the muscles and a few days’ rest should be enough,” explained Toni.

“He went into the match after feeling twinges during the week but very minor ones that normally do not affect you at all.

“In the second game of the second set he felt a pinch. When I asked him after treatment what was happening he said ‘it’s over’.”

 

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