January 26, 2014
Australian Open – The Happy Slam
Two great finals – both with gripping first sets in very different ways.
2014 Champion – Li Na
Li Na was not in control of the newcomer. Both appeared not to settle although this was Li’s third Aussie final, the petite Slovakian, Dominika Cibulkova did not disappoint in her first. Cibulkova did not have the experience and weapons to come back from such a hard fought and lengthy set. But what a charming runner up to a hugely popular champion, the always smiling, Li Na.
2014 Champion Stan Wawrinka
Wawrinka entered the ring on fire. The first set left Nadal standing and at the beginning of the second you found yourself bizarrely hoping that he would raise him game and find his form. Then came the Medical Time Out. Question – Was Nadal carrying an injury from the start? Answer – Unlikely, Wawrinka was just showing what he was made of.
The first set promised the start of a true classic. Wawrinka was striking the ball sublimely, better than any of the top seeds. Nobody could possibly have predicted what followed. The injured Nadal was as much a distraction to Wawrinka who lost concentration in the third. Think of Nadal as the cornered animal. The mental strength required of Wawrinka to not only win a grand slam final AND beat Nadal at same time. One day someone will find a way to harness the psychological energy of the players and the audience at a grand slam final and use it to fuel power stations!
The best man won. You felt it was his in the first set and he confirmed that for us in the fourth. The injury should not take that away. Wawrinka’s free flowing style is beautiful to watch and puts one in mind of another great Swiss. He got there by beating the two top seeds – let’s not forget the Djokovic five sets – sometimes the conquerers of the top seeds do the other players a favour then go out themselves in the next round. It shows real strengthof character to raise to the same level again. Wawrinka did it the hard way! The stuff of a true champion.
Congratulations Tennis Australia!