How the shepherd boy beat the beast

In a five-set marathon, he brought down the three-time defending champion Djokovic in the quarterfinals, took out Tomas Berdych in the semis and then Rafa in the final. Nadal is our modern-day warrior, at least in athletic circles. He is irrepressible and determined. He can win with power or attrition -- and most of the time both. But Wawrinka came into the final with a game plan. He never gave Nadal an opportunity to wear him down or overpower him. Wawrinka unleashed 19 aces (18 more than Nadal) and 53 winners (24, or an entire set's worth, more than Nadal.)

"I was feeling really good on the court," Wawrinka told reporters afterward. "I was moving well, feeling really aggressive, and I play my best set for sure by far."

Nadal, of course, was moving gingerly. He had injured his back in the second set, but by that point, Wawrinka had already crushed his spirit. Much like David knew he could expose Goliath's lack of mobility by simply unfurling a stone through his forehead, Wawrinka knew he had to keep the pressure on his ailing opponent and not give him any shot of rediscovering his measured groundies.

"I talk a lot with [coach] Magnus [Norman], who has been in that situation, to play a final," Wawrinka said. "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 start the match. In the beginning, he was good, he was fit; he wasn't [injured]. And myself, again, I was playing amazing tennis.

"Yeah, then was the second match in the match. I had to stay calm with myself just to try to stay aggressive because he was [injured], 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."

And that he did. Rod Laver himself, sitting in the arena that bears his name, captured the moment with his iPhone. He, like the rest of us, seemed moved by Wawrinka's accomplishment.

Now, as the first fortnight of the season comes to a close, a new Grand Slam champion is crowned, probably by the player who should have won all along. 

Not bad for a shepherd boy.

Experts Standings

Not one of our experts saw Stanislas Wawrinka coming. But, then again, even Wawrinka himself might not have known he was about to become a first-time Grand Slam champion at the recently concluded Australian Open.

Li Na was another surprise champion, but's Kamakshi Tandon -- surfing against the 10 others who caught the Serena Williams wave -- emerged with the correct pre-tournament choice.

Thus, Tandon and the ubiquitous Cliff Drysdale find themselves with the Experts' Picks lead at the quarter pole. Drysdale was the only one to emerge with three picks on the board, but because of the new-and-improved scoring system, his total is the same as Kamakshi's.

Howard Bryant, Darren Cahill and Mary Joe Fernandez are in a three-way tie for third, with Brad Gilbert and Patrick McEnroe closely behind.

For those trailing the field, the French Open can't come soon enough.

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