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Stan's unexpected dreams come true

By Chris Pike
28 January 2014 03:23PM EST

EVEN in his wildest dreams Stanislas Wawrinka never thought he would win a Grand Slam, be ranked No. 3 in the world or be the highest-ranked player from Switzerland.

However, after the fortnight of his career in Melbourne, the 28-year-old is now the Australian Open champion, indeed the world No. 3 ranked player and he has also overtaken his good friend, compatriot and idol Roger Federer as the top-ranked player from Switzerland for the first time ever.

After making giant strides in his career in 2013 making his first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open before losing to Novak Djokovic in five sets and taking part in the season-ending ATP World Tour finals in London after reaching No. 8 in the world, Wawrinka has carried on that momentum to begin 2014.

On the way to winning the Australian Open title, Wawrinka became the first player ever to beat world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and world No. 2 Djokovic in the same tournament as he became just the second ever Swiss man to win a Grand Slam title.

The fact that he is now a Grand Slam champion is still sinking in.

"To be honest, I don't realise. I still think that I'm dreaming. It's strange feeling, you know. I saw so many final. I always try to watch the final of Grand Slam because that's where the best player are playing," Wawrinka said.

"Before this for me wasn't a dream. I never expect to play a final. I never expect to win a Grand Slam. And right now I just did it. And especially the way I was playing all the tournament, it's for me a big surprise to play that well.

"To beat Rafa, even if he was injured, I think I play my best first set during the match; I was ready to play four hours or five to beat Novak in the quarter, to beat Berdych in semis. That shows me I'm doing the right thing since many years. That if you practice well, if you work hard, you will always have a chance to be in a great position to play your best tennis."

The victory in Melbourne has seen Wawrinka improve to a career-best ranking of No. 3 in the world and to now be that ranked highly, and having won a Grand Slam is something he never thought would happen to him in his career.

"To win a slam, to be No. 3, both for me is a big surprise. But I think more to win a slam. Because in the ranking you can be No. 3 without winning a slam. But now it's both happening, so it's a big surprise," he said.

"It's amazing feeling. I saw Roger winning so many Grand Slam in the past, so now it's my turn to win one. If you look the 10 past year, except Del Potro, it's only the top four guys who was winning all the Grand Slams.

"So, yeah, I will need time to realise what I did in these two weeks. Because at the end, even if Rafa was injured, I think I deserve that Grand Slam because I won against Djokovic, No. 2; I won against Rafa. I did amazing two weeks, and I was playing my best tennis ever."

Wawrinka never saw himself the calibre of player of the likes of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray, but his new coach and former world No. 2 Magnus Norman has worked hard on instilling that self-confidence in him, and it has obviously worked a treat.

"It's quite crazy what's happening right now. I never expect to win a Grand Slam. I never dream about that because for me, I was not good enough to beat those guys," Wawrinka said.

"During the match was important. I talk a lot with Magnus who has been in that situation, to play a final. He told me it was important not to think about the result but think about the way you want to play, the way you want to win every point.

"You know, was surprise how well I the match. In the beginning, he was good, he was fit, he wasn't injured. And myself, again, I was playing amazing tennis.

"Then was the second match in the match. I had to stay calm with myself just to try to stay aggressive because he was injury, but he was still trying a little bit. Was not easy. I start to be really nervous because I start to realize that I could win a Grand Slam. So it wasn't easy. But at the end I just come back to the game and focus on what I want to do."

The final on Sunday night on Rod Laver Arena was a sometimes bizarre event.

Wawrinka came out on fire blitzing the first set six games to three in what very well could have been the best set of tennis of his career.

He then went up a break in the second set as well before Nadal became hobbled by a back injury and took a sustained injury time-out, and for some time after that looked likely to retire as Wawrinka went up two sets to love.

However, Nadal then rebounded to win the third set but Wawrinka steadied to take out the fourth and become a Grand Slam champion.

"I feel I my best tennis during one set and one break. That's for sure. I was feeling really good on the court. I was moving well, feeling really aggressive, and I play my best set for sure by far. Then wasn't easy. He get injury. I saw that. He wasn't serving at all. He wasn't moving during one set. Then was a completely different match," he said.

"I had to focus on myself, to try to find the way just to it. I saw that and I knew it was really, really difficult for him. I was unhappy for that because normally that's not the way I want to win the match. But it's a final. At the end I won in four sets. I think I finish well the match. Yeah, to get the win, it's just amazing for me."

Wawrinka will now return home to Switzerland to enjoy his Grand Slam triumph, but his celebrations will be short-lived with him needing to rebound to lead Switzerland's Davis Cup charge against Serbia in Novi Sad, Serbia this weekend.

"Yeah, for sure. Maybe you don't know, but Davis Cup, it's really important for me. I'm really proud. It's a big honour to play for my country," Wawrinka said.

"So for sure I'm still thinking to go there. I don't know how I'm going to get there exactly, if I'm still going to be alive after tonight, but I'm going to go there."

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