Its not exactly a secret that my favorite tennis player on earth right now is Rafael Nadal, so of course I was firmly in his corner last night, when the Australian Open final began. Rafa's opponent was Stanilas Wawrinka, the world #8.
While Wawrinka won the match in four sets, I wasn't impressed with his attitude during the match. During the third game of the second set, Nadal become injured, I suspect, when he attempted to return one of Wawrinka's backhands - which are out of this world, I might say. The following video might give you an idea of exactly when the injury occurred:
After taking an extended medical time out (six minutes), the crowd booed Nadal when he returned to court. Later, Nadal said he understood the reaction, as the crowd had paid good money to see a decent match, and they were not going to see one. He had nothing but praise for the crowd afterward, though, which is typical of him.
When Nadal was being treated, Wawrinka argued with the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, demanding to know where Nadal was, and what he was being treated for. Ramos refused, stating that Wawrinka had no right to know what Nadal was being treated for, and that even he wasn't aware of what was wrong. Wawrinka then spent the next few minutes arguing, complaining that Nadal was taking too long to return.
Lets get real, here. If a player is injured, they have the right to a medical time out. All players are entitled to one. If a player is forced to play with an injury, how does it make the match fair? How would Wawrinka have felt, winning the Open, knowing that all Nadal could do was stand there? In being treated, the match became as fair as it could have been.
Also, if the opponent knows what the injury is, it basically hands the match to them on a platter. If Wawrinka knew that Nadal had a back injury, he could use that to his advantage, which isn't a bad thing, until you consider the fact that the match wouldn't have been fair. A fair match is when both players are in top form, not when one player is seriously injured and the other player at 100%.
I felt that Wawrinka's attitude needed a bit of adjustment. To argue with the umpire, then with the officials, then to continually yell at the people in his players box during the third set was just ridiculous. Sometimes, you need to harden the fuck up and get over yourself.
Some people have attacked Nadal, claiming that his back injury was faked. I wager a guess that not one of those people watched the match all the way through. If they had, they would know that no one can fake an injury like that. Plus, what is there is gain from it? Why would any professional tennis player fake an injury and lose a major tournament? Nadal wanted this win, badly. If he won last night, he would have been the first man since Rod Laver to win all four majors at least twice. There is no way he would have faked an injury - and the agony on his face should have been obvious to anyone. He's the world number one. He doesn't fake injury, he doesn't retire either, no matter how much pain he is in.
Last night, Nadal came out the favorite, and Wawrinka the underdog. With Nadal injured, the roles reversed, and Nadal was the underdog, giving him the support of the crowd once they realised the severity of his injury.
Had he played in top form last night, the match outcome could have been very different. Wawrinka wouldn't have had a mental meltdown, and Nadal wouldn't have had a physical meltdown. I think the match would have gone to five sets, and I think that Nadal would have taken it out, with a heck of a lot of hard work. As it was, it wasn't a fair match because Wawrinka never got the chance to play Nadal at 100%. He won largely because Nadal was seriously injured, so when they meet again, it will be interesting to see what happens.
Wawrinka played well, he has a superb backhand which is his biggest weapon, and it was that backhand that was the downfall of Nadal - it was attempting to return the backhand that injured him.
So, well done, Stan. You played well in the first set, but as soon as Nadal become injured, your attitude changed and when you berated the umpire and shouted at the members in your players box, you lost a lot of respect from the people in the stadium, and those at home. You need to show more respect to your opponent, the umpires and officials. And eat some concrete.
See you next year, Stan.