Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Sports

Major failures are finally over for Wawrinka

MELBOURNE, Australia — For 35 Grand Slam tournaments, the words of an Irish poet became something of a mantra for Stanislas Wawrinka. After one too many defeats, he had them inscribed on his left arm.

At each ball toss, if he cared to glance, he could see the words of Samuel Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

He's going to have to come up with something new after beating top-ranked Rafael Nadal to win his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Sunday.

Nadal was hampered by a back injury after the first set, but Wawrinka blocked that out of his mind to win 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Coming into the first major of 2014, Wawrinka was 0-12 against No. 1-ranked Nadal and had a 14-match losing streak against No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who won three straight Australian Open titles from 2011-13. He wasn't even the highest-ranked player in Switzerland, not surprising considering he was playing in Roger Federer's generation.

"I had that quote in my head for a long time. It was part of my life, how I see the life, and especially how I see the tennis life," Wawrinka, 28, said of the Beckett quote.

He was pessimistic about anyone breaking the dominance of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray, who accounted for all but one of the previous 35 major titles.

"It's not easy because tennis life, when you lose, it's tough to get through and to take a positive from a loss, from failing from a tournament," he said. "So that's how I see, in general, my career. I always go back to practice to try to improve myself and to give me all the chance to beat the best player in the world."

After being the first man in 21 years to beat the top two players en route to a major title — he beat Djokovic in the quarterfinals to avenge two five-set defeats in Grand Slams last year — Wawrinka will move from No. 8 to No. 3 in the rankings. That's a projected five spots in front Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion.

Federer was the first to call to congratulate Wawrinka after the new champion spoke with his own family back in Switzerland.

"I didn't call so many (people), but my wife, my daughter, my sister, and Roger called me," said Wawrinka, still clutching the trophy at a news conference more than two hours later. "So, yeah, was nice for me. I know that he's really, really happy for me."

Nadal appeared to be on the verge of retiring in the second set, when he took a medical timeout that frustrated Wawrinka and drew boos from the crowd. The boos became chants of "Ra-Fa! Ra-Fa!" as he refused to quit. His service speed dropped dramatically, he wasn't retrieving as well as usual and he was sweating on mistakes from the other side to pick up cheap points.

Before the tournament, Nadal described the Australian Open as his unlucky Grand Slam. He missed the 2013 edition during a seven-month layoff with knee injuries and illness, and his quarterfinal losses in 2010 and 2011 were affected by injuries.

"It has been a very emotional two weeks; I'm sorry to finish this way," he told the Rod Laver Arena crowd, at the same time commending Wawrinka. "I tried very, very hard; this year was one of the more emotional tournaments in my career.

"Last thing that I wanted to do was retire. I hate to do that, especially in a final."

Comments
Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

If you've been dipping your toes in the "Gosh, Vita Vea looks a lot like the guy from Disney's Moana" pool, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has jumped in all the way.The Bucs' 347-pound rookie is massive, has a family history on the Pacific island...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Academy at the Lakes wins first state softball title

Academy at the Lakes wins first state softball title

VERO BEACH —Academy at the Lakes had waited two weeks to play in the Class 2A state softball tournament in hopes of winning what has been an elusive title.The Wildcats completed the first task Monday, cruising to a mercy-rule win over Fort Pierce Joh...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Photos: Bucs open OTA practices

Photos: Bucs open OTA practices

“We’d love to have everybody here,” said coach Dirk Koetter, who said he was unsure if Pierre-Paul or Grimes would practice before next month’s mandatory minicamp. “That’s the perfect world, but we don’t live...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Rays call up top prospect Willy Adames – for now

Rays call up top prospect Willy Adames – for now

The Rays have called up top prospect INF Willy Adames – though likely for a short stay.INF Joey Wendle was placed on the paternity list Tuesday, which can last three days.Adames is likely to head back to Triple-A Durham when Wendle returns.Adam...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Faria on the mound

For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Faria on the mound

UPDATE, 3:27: Here is the Rays lineup, would just called up top prospect Willy Adames:Robertson 2bCron 1bDuffy dhRamos cAdames ssField rfArroyo 3bRefsnyder lfSmith cfFaria pDEVELOPING: The Rays are back home after a long, eventful and ultimately succ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning squanders chance to close out Capitals

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning squanders chance to close out Capitals

The Lightning misses an opportunity to close out the Capitals in Washington, so there will be a Game 7 in Tampa on Wednesday night with a berth in the Stanley Cup final on the line.Andrei Vasilevskiy was fantastic, but the Lightning couldn't match th...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Did ex-girlfriend’s Facebook post leak suspension of FSU starter Josh Ball?

Did ex-girlfriend’s Facebook post leak suspension of FSU starter Josh Ball?

A Florida State student from Lithia wrote a Facebook post Monday afternoon alleging the suspension of Seminoles starting offensive tackle Josh Ball.Little else was known a day later, but the details in the since-deleted post are consistent ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

The Bucs started another chapter of their offseason Tuesday with the first OTA (organized team activity) practice at One Buc Place, with veterans Jason Pierre-Paul and Brent Grimes as the only healthy players absent from what is officially a voluntar...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Game 7 odds and ends as you wait for Lightning-Capitals on Wednesday

Game 7 odds and ends as you wait for Lightning-Capitals on Wednesday

For the 33rd time in NHL history, a Stanley Cup semifinal series is headed to a Game 7, where the home teams are 21-11.The Lightning and Capitals meet Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in a win-or-go home game to decide who plays Vegas in the Stanley C...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Intensity, preparation key to Calvary Christian LHP Nolan Hudi’s success

Intensity, preparation key to Calvary Christian LHP Nolan Hudi’s success

Nolan Hudi has made 26 starts for Calvary Christian and he has won 22 of them. His other four starts were no decisions.The Warriors have won 59 straight games entering Wednesday's Class 4A state semifinal against Jacksonville Trinity Christian. No ga...
Updated: 4 hours ago