Daily Bagel: Stan The Man
The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.
• Video: Greatest hits from the Open Drive series at the Australian Open.
• Stanislas Wawrinka showed his resilience in winning his first Grand Slam title, as Steve Tignor of Tennis.com writes.
This has been the era of Big 4 dominance; Wawrinka, at age 28, finally turned it on its head by acknowledging that and accepting it. He took solace in the fact that "everyone" was always losing to them, not just him. And since he was always losing, the only thing he could do was take satisfaction and confidence in losing a little better. His best loss, and the start of his rise to this title, came against Djokovic here 12 months ago. That was Wawrinka's best failure, and his last so far at the Australian Open.
• How Wawrinka succeeded tactically against Rafael Nadal in the final.
• Grantland's Louisa Thomas says Wawrinka deserves his new No. 3 ranking.
• Wawrinka wins one for the "other guy," writes The Wall Street Journal's Tom Perrotta, who shares this Wawrinka anecdote:
The week before last, Wawrinka met me at a small table in the media center here. This was after his first-round opponent had retired, back when he was still Stan "the-8-seed-who-had-a-strong-2013-what-a-nice-guy-sweet-backhand" Wawrinka. He said this: "Sometimes one match can change everything." And this: "Maybe one day I will beat Novak or Rafa in a Grand Slam."
He was right. And he beat them both. The other guy was the best.
• Greg Bishop of The New York Times on whether Wawrinka cracked the Big Four or just dented it.
For nine years now, four players have defined an era of men’s tennis, their play so consistent the rest of the ATP World Tour seemed to exist on another planet. There was Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, and then there was everybody else.
So when someone outside the Big Four managed to win a Grand Slam singles title, as Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland did at the Australian Open on Sunday night, the temptation will always be to look for cracks in the hierarchy. To see if perhaps more than four players can maintain residency in the upper echelon, or can rent-to-buy, at least.
That is the temptation and, in some quarters, the hope. But there remains one problem with the idea of a shake-up, even in the wake of Wawrinka’s triumph — four problems, actually. Federer may never win another Grand Slam title, but the others are all still very much in their primes, and it will take an unusual confluence of events for the Wawrinkas of the tennis world to seize more than the occasional major tournament trophy.
• Wawrinka acted like anything but an underdog, says Matt Wilansky of ESPN.com.
• In his review of the women's final, Tignor writes about Li's authenticity.
Li is funny, of course, but what I think people like about her is that she’s a real person out there, a full person, one who talks about a daily existence that involves more than just bashing tennis balls. Through the filter of her comic routines, you get a sense, not only of the sitcom that seems to be her married life, but of her anxieties and uncertainties about tennis. You also get a sense of the will that she has developed over the years to overcome those uncertainties. We can relate to all of it, even her rants, which any tennis player will recognize from their own matches. Li isn’t a champion who is made of steel, but her sense of humor conveys a more human strength.
• Jon Wertheim's 50 parting thoughts from the Australian Open.
• Eugenie Bouchard has already accomplished her rankings goal for 2014: cracking the top 20.