Australian Open 2014 – The Champions

Stanislas Wawrinka - © Wayne Ludbey/News Limited
Stanislas Wawrinka – © Wayne Ludbey/News Limited

The truth is…Sunday was a statement of character. Scratch that. The entire 2014 Australian Open was a statement of character, loaded with astonishing upsets; culminating in two moments that screamed “AT LAST!”

The Australian Open received the Men’s Final that US Open fans tried to WILL into existence back in September…(See Day 13). Stan Wawrinka was phenomenal in Flushing, battling past Berdych in four and Murray in three to face Novak Djokovic in the Semifinals. With a crushing 4-6 loss in the fifth, New York sent Stan off the court with a standing ovation, ecstatic to finally see someone step-up and contend the top-four. The tattoo on his left arm speaks for itself, a quote from Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” In his 36th Grand Slam appearance, failure was no longer an option. After 12 straight losses to Djokovic, Stan finally defeated Novak in the ’14 Australian Open Quarterfinals: 9-7 in the fifth! He then dispatched Berdych in the Semis, and shocked Nadal with a convincing 6-3 first-set win in the Final. Rafa then suffered tightening in his back during the second set, paving the way to Stan’s crowning accomplishment.

While fans are left wondering how this would have played out had Nadal been at 100% for the entire match, the simple fact is, Stan put himself in position to win. Like the “tat” defines – he failed, failed better, boosted his fitness, improved his strategies, and cultivated confidence with each rung of the ladder. He earned the title of 2014 Australian Open Champion and deserves the respect that comes with his new career high ranking: #3 in the world.

Speaking of respect…Rafael Nadal – even in defeat (especially in defeat) – continues to walk a near divine, excuse-free, magnanimous career-path that is the envy and example for anyone with a passion for…anything. After the back tweak at the start of the second-set, he could have easily retired, handing the title to a deserving Wawrinka; but retirement in a Grand Slam Final is not in Nadal’s DNA. His deep respect for the game, his opponents, the fans, and organizers worldwide who give him this opportunity to excel at his passion doesn’t allow him to quit competing…ever. Despite the pain, despite the risk of aggravating an injury further, he felt it was his RESPONSIBILITY to stay on the court, to force Wawrinka to earn his first Grand Slam title. Role model? You’re damn right. A role model who transcends his sport…his passion – tennis.

Stanislas Wawrinka - © Mark Koble/Getty Images
Stanislas Wawrinka – © Mark Koble/Getty Images

Stanislas Wawrinka’s road to the title:

  • [ 1] def Andrey Gulobev 6-4, 4-1 (ret)
  • [ 2] def Alejandro Falla 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4
  • [ 3] def Vasek Pospisil (walkover)
  • [ 4] def Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-6(5)
  • [QF] def Novak Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7
  • [SF] def Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-7(1), 7-6(3), 7-6(4)
  • [ F] def Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3

Rafael Nadal’s road to the final:

  • [ 1] def Bernard Tomic 6-4, (re1)
  • [ 2] def Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
  • [ 3] def Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-2, 6-3
  • [ 4] def Kei Nishikori 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-6(3)
  • [QF] def Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(7), 6-2
  • [SF] def Roger Federer 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3

Na Li is undoubtedly the most charismatic player on the WTA Tour. She too feels the weight of responsibility when it comes to her role in the game, though that burden seems minuscule compared to the responsibility of being a role model in China. The woman is amazing…just six years ago, she and her husband quit the Chinese national team, giving her the freedom to hire her own coaching staff and keep more of her winnings (they were taking 65%). By doing so, she absorbed the cost of travel, training and coaching, but made it work, climbed the rankings and earned enormous sponsorship and endorsement deals to eliminate the burden of expense. In 2011, she reached the Australian Open Final and won the title at Roland Garros. Despite reaching the Australian Open Final again in 2013, Li was ready to bail on tennis after a poor showing and bad press at Roland Garros…but she battled on. She reached the Wimbledon Quarterfinals, September’s US Open Semifinals, and then won this year’s Australian Open crown. Through it all, she’s maintained an infectious sense of humor that multiplies fans and admirers by the millions with each second of exposure. (MUST SEE: Click on her image to see her speech during the trophy presentation!)

Na Li - © Aaron Favila/AP
Na Li’s road to the title:

  • [ 1] def Ana Konjuh 6-2, 6-0
  • [ 2] def Belinda Bencic 6-0, 7-6(5)
  • [ 3] def Lucie Safarova 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-3
  • [ 4] def Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-0
  • [QF] def Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2
  • [SF] def Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-4
  • [ F] def Dominika Cibulkova 7-6(3), 6-0

Dominika Cibulkova’s road to the final:

  • [ 1] def Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-4
  • [ 2] def Stefanie Voegele 6-0, 6-1
  • [ 3] def Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-0
  • [ 4] def Maria Sharapova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
  • [QF] def Simona Halep 6-3, 6-0
  • [SF] def Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-2

While #1 Italian doubles team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci continue to impose their will on all comers, it was encouraging to see some competition for the top Men’s Doubles teams at this year’s Australian Open. Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt took-out Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo on their way to the title; while runners up Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen – who’ve only been playing together for four months – beat teams like Bob and Mike Bryan, Treat Huey and Denis Inglot, and Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic on their way to the final. Nestor wouldn’t be denied a 12th Grand Slam title, though – he earned his 3rd Mixed Doubles Australian Open Title with partner Kristina Mladenovic.

Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt - © Michael Dodge/Getty Images
Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt – © Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt’s road to the Men’s Doubles title:

  • [ 1] def Federico Delbonis and Albert Ramos 6-3, 6-2
  • [ 2] def Benjamin Mitchell and Jordan Thompson 6-1, 6-3
  • [ 3] def Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
  • [QF] def Max Mirnyi and Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 5-7, 6-2
  • [SF] def Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 6-7(12), 6-3
  • [ F] def Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen 6-3, 6-3

Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen’s road to the final:

  • [ 1] def Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter 6-4, 7-5
  • [ 2] def Jamie Murray and John Peers 6-4, 6-4
  • [ 3] def Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 7-6(9), 6-4
  • [QF] def Treat Huey and Denis Inglot 6-7(3), 7-6(6), 6-4
  • [SF] def Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2, 6-4
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci - © Reuters
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci – © Reuters

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci’s road to the Women’s Doubles title:

  • [ 1] def Mona Barthel and Megan Moulton-Levy 7-5, 6-2
  • [ 2] def Kaia Kanepi and Renata Voracova 1-6, 6-1, 6-1
  • [ 3] def Monique Adamczak and Olivia Rogowska 6-2, 6-2
  • [QF] def Cara Black and Sania Mirza 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
  • [SF] def Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik 6-1, 6-4
  • [ F] def Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-4, 3-6, 7-5

Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina’s road to the final:

  • [ 1] def Lauren Davis and Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-3, 6-2
  • [ 2] def Jelena Jankovic and Karin Knapp 6-4, 6-3
  • [ 3] def Daniela Hantuchova and Lisa Raymond 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2
  • [QF] def Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Safarova 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4)
  • [SF] def Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic - © Andrew Brownbill/AP Photo
Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic – © Andrew Brownbill/AP Photo

Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic’s road to the Mixed Doubles title:

  • [ 1] def Raven Klaasen and Su-Wei Hsieh 7-5, 6-3
  • [ 2] def Mariusz Fyrstenberg 6-4, 6-1
  • [QF] def Leander Paes and Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-3
  • [SF] def Scott Lipsky and Jie Zheng 6-3, 6-1
  • [ F] def Horia Tecau and Sania Mirza 6-3, 6-2

Horia Tecau and Sania Mirza’s road to the final:

  • [ 1] def Robert Lindstedt and Hao-Ching Chan 4-6, 7-6(3), [10-8]
  • [ 2] def Colin Fleming and Anastasia Rodionova 6-2, 6-2
  • [QF] def Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi and Julia Georges6-3, 6-4
  • [SF] def Matthew Ebden and Jarmila Gajdosova 2-6, 6-3 [10-2]