Stan Wawrinka and Rafa Nadal share beautiful hug after match (Video)

Stan Wawrinka Rafael Nadal

The mixed emotions of sadness and happiness, frustration and joy, pain and endurance were all evident when Stan Wawrinka and Rafa Nadal met at the net for a beautiful embrace following their final at the Australian Open on Sunday.

Wawrinka defeated Rafa in four sets, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, but the victory was a struggle in a number of ways. Rafa had a back injury that bothered him in the second set and resulted in him playing at much below his top level. Stan had to deal with the mental struggle of trying to defeat a wounded opponent. He lost a set, but he ultimately prevailed to win his first career grand slam. Yet, because he defeated an opponent who played half the match at half-strength, he couldn’t completely celebrate his win; it wouldn’t have been proper sportsmanship, nor is it a satisfying feeling to win in that manner.

All those emotions melted together for the beautiful hug the two shared after the match.

You could tell Nadal was saying “don’t worry” to Wawrinka, who was presumably apologetic for the way the match went down. And Nadal is right. Wawrinka was winning that match before Nadal’s back injury occurred. Not only that, but Stan also beat Tomas Berdych and Tommy Robredo … and he truly earned the title by finally conquering Novak Djokovic. He became the first player to ever beat Nadal and Djokovic in a major. Isn’t that enough right there?

For all that, Wawrinka should never look back at this title with anything other than pride and a sense of great accomplishment. He won the major and absolutely deserves it.

Rafael Nadal booed by fans after returning from treatment for back injury (Video)

Rafael Nadal locker roomThe fans at the Australian Open turned on Rafael Nadal during Sunday’s final after the Spaniard took a break to receive treatment for his back injury during the second set.

Nadal left the court after being down 3-6, 1-2 in his finals match with Stan Wawrinka.

Wawrinka, who had all the momentum, was left to sit around for about seven minutes while waiting for Nadal to return. He voiced his displeasure with the chair umpire — he wanted to be told the reason why Nadal had left the court — and that led to an argument with the umpire.

The fans must have grown restless during the break and could have been upset with what they may have felt was a stall tactic by Nadal, because they booed him when he returned to the court:

Nadal’s back injury was definitely legitimate, so the booing was uncalled for. Nadal was practically in tears, likely because of the injury and the disappointment of getting hurt during such a big match:

After Rafa finally won a game to make it 5-2 in the second set, the fans began to cheer him. They flipped back and supported him more in the third set when he won his serve and then broke Wawrinka, so it obviously didn’t take them long to get over whatever issues they had, but that was pretty crummy of them to turn on him in the first place.

Rafael Nadal suffers back injury during Australian Open final

Rafael Nadal back pain

Rafael Nadal suffered a back injury at about the worst time possible.

The Spaniard was getting rolled by Stan Wawrinka in the finals of the Australian Open and was down a set when he appeared to hurt his back. After hitting a forehand in the third game of the second set, Rafa seemed to strain his lower back. Nadal hung on to win the game so that he was only down 2-1 in the second, but the back injury was bad enough for him to leave the court at the side change.

Nadal left the court to receive treatment in the locker room and did not return for about seven minutes. He was actually booed by the fans when he returned from the locker room, likely because the break in action figured to disrupt Wawrinka’s momentum.

Though there may have been questions about the legitimacy of Nadal’s injury, the lefty appeared to be in serious pain and on the verge of tears in his first game after returning from his injury. He lost the next game to fall behind 3-1, and he could hardly hit his serve with any velocity, leading him to double fault multiple times and fall behind 4-1. Nadal continued to receive treatment at the next changeover and remained in pain, but he refused to retire from the match.

It wasn’t until he was down 1-5 that he held serve to win another game, though he lost the second set 6-2. Nadal continued to receive treatment and massages during changeovers, but he just was not the same player. He would not quit, and the announcers speculated that he took some painkillers during his trip to the locker room and was waiting for those to kick in.

Rafael Nadal wearing pink Nike shoes at Australian Open

Rafael Nadal shoes

Rafael Nadal turned heads with the pink shoes he wore during his semifinal match with Roger Federer at the Australian Open on Friday. Both Nadal and Federer are Nike players, so the swoosh received received double the camera time in their match.

Rafa’s outfit included a black and pink shirt and matching pink sneakers, which are the Nike Lunar Ballistec model. Rafa wore the white version of the shoe for his quarterfinal match against Grigor Dimitrov, his fourth-round match with Kei Nishikori, and his second-round match. He wore the pink version in his third-round match with Gael Monfils and his first-round match with Bernard Tomic, in addition to his semifinal clash with Roger.

What’s cool about the shoes is that they are personalized. They have his name on the front and the back, along with “09″ for when he won the Aussie Open:

Rafael Nadal Australian Open shoes

Rafael Nadal Australian Open shoes pink

Bright colors are in with Nike tennis. Roger’s outfit involved a lot of bright red as its primary color. His sneaker was the Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour Lt Crimson/Night shoe which is a similar shade to Rafa’s, though not quite as bright.

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Rafael Nadal dealing with nasty blisters on his hand

Rafael Nadal blisters

Rafael Nadal has been battling some nasty blisters on his hand during the Australian Open. That sort of thing will happen when you’re playing best-of-five matches in temperatures that frequently exceed 100 degrees.

Nadal had to be bandaged during his fourth-round win over Kei Nishikori. He had a huge reddish/pink mark on the palm of his left hand that was treated and needed to be taped:

Rafael Nadal blister hand

After the trainer got done bandaging him, Nadal’s left hand was mummified:

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Rafael Nadal’s girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello was at the US Open

Maria Francisca Perello

Rafael Nadal’s private box was full of his biggest supporters throughout his championship run at the US Open. Fans watching Rafa’s four-set win over Novak Djokovic in the finals even got several glimpses of the Spaniard’s longtime girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello, who is generally less visible than some of the other WAGs of tennis.

Perello, who goes by Xisca, doesn’t always attend Nadal’s matches, unlike Djokovic’s girlfriend Jelena Ristic, or even Andy Murray’s girlfriend Kim Sears. In fact, Perello, who holds a full-time job, explained in Nadal’s 2011 autobiograph why that is the case.

“He needs his space when he is competing, and just the idea of me hanging around waiting on his needs all day wears me out,” she sid in the book. “If I followed him everywhere, I think there’s a risk we might stop getting along.”

Like Nadal, Perello is from Mallorca in Spain. The two have been dating since they were teenagers, and Perello is said to be close with Nadal’s sister, who also attended the US Open final and sat with their mother and Perello.

Here are all three at the tournament:

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Rafael Nadal stumbles, falls down during point (GIF)

Rafael Nadal lost his footing and got a bit stumbly during the finals of the US Open on Monday night, but he didn’t let the shaky moment ruin his momentum.

Rafael Nadal fallsNadal and Djokovic were tied 4-4 in the third set and Nole was up 0-15 on Nadal’s serve. The two had a rally going, and Djokovic returned a shot with a good amount of topspin. As Nadal was backing up to set up for the shot, he lost his footing and fell down. But Nadal popped right back up and despite losing the next point to fall behind 0-40, he rallied back to win the game and take a 5-4 lead. Nadal then broke Djokovic to go up a set in the match.

It’s impressive that Nadal didn’t let an embarrassing stumble like that take him out of his game.

GIF via @CJZero