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.
— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 26, 2014
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.