stanislas wawrinka, sports, tennis

Stanislas Wawrinka surprised the tennis-watching world over the weekend by defeating Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open, making him quite the wild card Grand Slam winner.

Wawrinka, a 28-year old best known for being the Swiss tennis player that’s not Roger Federer, beat (and injured) Nadal 3-1 (or 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3).

Thirty-four out of the last 35 Grand Slams have been won by either Nadal, Federer, Andy Murray, or Novak Djokovic, making Wawrinka the first non-“Big Four” player to win a Major since Juan Martin Del Potro in 2009.

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“I never expect to play a final,” he said of his win. “I never expect to win a Grand Slam. And right now I just did it.  And especially the way I was playing all the tournament, it’s for me a big surprise to play that well. ”

As Grantland recounts, Wawrinka’s record demonstrates why his win was such a big coup: “Of all the guys who might push them, Wawrinka had especially staggering stats. Before the Australian Open, Wawrinka had lost to Djokovic 14 times in a row. He had lost to Nadal all 12 times they played, all 26 sets. He had lost 39 of his last 40 matches against Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal. But he was closing the gap. He hired a new coach, improved his game, grew stronger and fitter. A year ago, he was ranked no. 17; by the end of 2013, he was ranked eighth.”

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“To win a Slam, to be number three [in the rankings], both for me is a big surprise,” Wawrinka told the BBC. “But I think more so to win a Slam, because in the ranking you can be number three without winning a Slam. But now both are happening, so it’s a big surprise.

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