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Wawrinka win opens door
Stanislas Wawrinka expects his Australian Open triumph to persuade other players that the big four of men's tennis are there to be shot at.
The 28-year-old's victory over Rafael Nadal in the final on Sunday made him the first man other than the Spaniard, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray to win a grand slam singles title since Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open in 2009.
The quartet have also dominated the Masters series events, and their consistency has meant beating one is not normally enough.
Wawrinka got the better of Djokovic and an admittedly-injured Nadal in Melbourne, becoming the first man to beat both players at a slam and the first to defeat the top seeds in the same major since Sergi Bruguera at the French Open in 1993.
Wawrinka sensed a shift last season, and he said: "For sure some players will realise that it's possible now to win a grand slam.
"I think all the top-15 players already last year were thinking that the four major guys, they were still there, still amazing players, but we had more chance to beat them.
"We didn't win a grand slam but we were close. Now I have my grand slam trophy and no one can take that back."
Wawrinka has come up on the rails, claiming a grand slam title before the likes of top-10 stalwarts Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Ferrer.
"I always thought before that they were closer than me to winning a grand slam," he said.
"Since Del Potro won the US Open, everyone's expecting him to win another grand slam, but it's not that simple.
"Those four guys are playing amazing tennis, they've been there every tournament, so to win a grand slam you have to play a perfect two weeks."
Wawrinka's triumph elevated him to world number three behind only Nadal and Djokovic.
Murray is down to sixth and Federer finds himself in eighth, his lowest ranking since 2002, despite an encouraging showing in Melbourne.
No one appears more surprised by Wawrinka's sudden jump to the top table than the man himself, which makes the question of what comes next a little tricky.
"Everything that's happened is quite crazy so for sure when you're number three and you win a grand slam, a journalist would expect you to say, 'I want to be number one'," said Wawrinka.
"I feel that it's so far for me, so far from my level. That's why it's not my goal.
"I have to take time for myself alone with my family and my team to see exactly how I'm going to deal with that for the rest of the year and what I want to do more. After the Davis Cup I think we'll take some time just to realise what's happened.
"I realise now that when I play my best tennis I can beat those guys in a grand slam, in a final or a semi-final.
"For sure everybody will expect me to make some great results in the next grand slam. I will keep doing my thing, keep trying to see with (coach) Magnus (Norman) and my team how to improve."
Wawrinka also becomes number one in Switzerland for the first time ahead of close friend Federer, but he said: "I really don't care because when you're number two after Roger, it's not a problem.
"He's the best player ever and I will always feel that I'm number two behind him. It's more about being number three in the world, that's really big and something amazing."
Wawrinka had a constant companion in the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup as he completed his final media obligations before heading home to get ready to lead Switzerland in Davis Cup against Serbia later this week.
When he returns to Melbourne next year there will be a new photo on the parade of champions heading out to Rod Laver Arena.
"The first thing I'm going to do when I come back is take a picture of myself, that's for sure," said Wawrinka.
"When I see all those champions, for me they're the real champions. To be there is something crazy."