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updated: 1/26/2014 7:42 AM

Wawrinka upsets Nadal to win Australian Open men's tennis final

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  • Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland kisses the trophy after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain in the men's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday.

    Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland kisses the trophy after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain in the men's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday.
    Associated Press

Bloomberg News

Stanislas Wawrinka capped an unlikely run to his first major tennis title with a four-set upset in the Australian Open men's final over top-seeded Rafael Nadal, who had won all 12 of their previous matches.

The eighth seed from Switzerland, won 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to deny Spain's Nadal his 14th major crown. The 28-year-old, who beat defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the quarterfinals, is the first man to overcome the top two seeds at a Grand Slam since Sergi Bruguera at the 1993 French Open.

Wawrinka, who has spent his career in the shadow of countryman Roger Federer, became just the second man since 2005 outside the group of Nadal, Federer, Britain's Andy Murray and Djokovic to win a Grand Slam singles title. Last year Wawrinka was defeated by the Serbian in a five-hour fourth-round match after he was up 5-2 and serving for a two-set lead.

"Last year, I had a crazy match, and I lost it, and I was crying a lot," Wawrinka said after accepting the trophy from Pete Sampras. "This year, I don't know if I'm dreaming or not but I'll find out tomorrow morning."

Nadal, down a set and a service break, left the court for three minutes of treatment on his back before Wawrinka started serving with a 2-1 lead in the second.

Wawrinka started strongly, and won the first two sets with aces, the second right down the middle. Nadal took the momentum in the third set with an early break. In the middle of the final set, they traded breaks before Wawrinka got another to go up 5-3 and to serve for the match.

Making History

Nadal, 27, who had never lost a set in his previous matches against Wawrinka, was trying to become the third man in tennis history -- along with Australians Roy Emerson and Rod Laver -- to win each of the four Grand Slam titles twice. No man had done it since the sport went professional in 1968.

The Australian, French and U.S. opens, along with Wimbledon, make up the sport's Grand Slam.

Nadal's 14th major title would have tied him with retired American Sampras for second place on the men's singles list, trailing only Federer's 17. By reaching his 19th Grand Slam final, Nadal joined Ivan Lendl in second place on the career list -- behind only Federer's 24. Nadal missed last year's event because of an injury.

"You really deserved it today," Nadal told Wawrinka after the match. "I wasn't here last year, and I'm here this year and we tried really hard. I'm sorry it finished this way. I tried really really hard."

Wawrinka, who has six career titles compared to Nadal's 61, will pass the 32-year-old Federer on the rankings list this week for the first time in a career that began in 2002.

Passing Federer

He will rise to third on the ATP Tennis Tour with the victory. Federer, who has been the top-ranked player from Switzerland since 2001, will drop to No. 8 in the world.

"He's been knocking on the door for a couple years now," Sampras told reporters before the semifinals when asked about Wawrinka. "He's been in this situation a few times. He's stepping through that door."

Wawrinka joined 2009 U.S. Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina as the only players outside Nadal, Djokovic Federer and Murray to win a Grand Slam title since Russia's Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open.

Wawrinka reached his first Grand Slam final by upsetting three-time defending champion Djokovic of Serbia -- the second seed this year -- in the quarterfinals, and beating No. 7 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the semifinals in Melbourne.

The last time a player beat the top two seeds was at the 1993 French Open, when Bruguera beat Sampras in the quarterfinal and No. 2 Jim Courier in the final.

'A Bull'

"He's always been like a bull, a guy who is extremely strong, and he's always had a great backhand," seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe said in an interview before the final. "He's learned from his mistakes and his past history, and that's hard to do when you get into your late 20s."

The final pitted the top seed against the eighth seed for the first time in a men's Grand Slam final since tennis went professional.

Wawrinka's championship prize of A$2.65 million ($2.32 million) brings his career earnings to more than $11 million.

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