Stanislas Wawrinka’s surprising championship run at the 2014 Australian Open not only marks the first time a player not named Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray to win a Grand Slam title in the last sixteen attempts, but it’s also the first time in the past decade that a shoe not branded with a Swoosh or Three Stripes has won a major tournament.
Not even Yonex probably expected to be standing in the winner’s circle when the Aussie Open kicked off two weeks ago. But thanks to Wawrinka’s shocking win over Nadal in the men’s singles final, the Yonex SHT-PRO EX has officially cemented its place in the record books.
While Stan’s SHT-PRO EX stole much of the spotlight down under, it was hardly the only noteworthy shoe worn at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.
With 128 players in the men’s singles draw, there’s bound to be a wide range of footwear brands represented at the first major tournament of the season. Here’s a look at some of the more notable sneakers that took to the iconic blue courts of Melbourne Park this year.
Lotto Raptor Ultra IV
Worn by: David Ferrer, Donald Young, Denis Istomin
The Lotto Raptor Ultra IV always seems to get its fair share of the spotlight, thanks in large part to the success of veteran David Ferrer, who has worn the shoe on Tour over the past couple of seasons. However in 2014, Ferrer is joined by a crop of young players who have opted to go with the speedy shoe as well—guys like American Donald Young and Russia's Denis Istomin. With a concave-shaped outsole that moves naturally with the foot and a springy Syn-Pulse midsole, the Raptor Ultra IV is a great all-around shoe that is particularly impressive on the hard court.
Nike Lunar Ballistec
Worn by: Thanasi Kokkinakis
When Nike unveiled the Lunar Ballistec earlier this month, the brand was hoping top-ranked Rafael Nadal would lace up in the new model at the 2014 Australian Open. Instead, Rafa has decided to stick with the proven Air Max Courtballistec 4.3 for the first major tournament of the year. Nonetheless, the Lunar Ballistec—with its basketball inspired design—is still a top-tier shoe that brings Nike's Lunarlon cushioning to the tennis court for lightweight, responsive cushioning that can go the distance. It looks great too.
Asics Gel-Solution Speed
Worn by: Nikolay Davydenko
Asics' proprietary Gel cushioning isn't just limited to running shoes anymore. The lightweight Gel-Solution Speed is part of a series of footwear offerings from the brand's tennis division that gives players the same effective cushioning on the tennis court. The shoe features a Flexion Fit upper that conforms to the shape of the foot for locked-in support, and also allows for proper temperature regulation thanks to its perforated design. A PGuard toe cap adds a layer of durability, while the High Abrasion Rubber outsole works great for players with quick footwork.
adidas Barricade 8
Worn by: Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori
Though the Barricade 8 made its debut in 2013, some of the top adidas sponsored players in the game—like Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray—were reluctant to make the switch from the popular Barricade 7 to the newer, more streamlined model. After holding out for all of last season, this year Andy Murray has finally warmed up to the Barricade 8. He is joined by fellow pro Kei Nishikori, who made it all the way to the fourth round of the Aussie Open in his blue and green edition of the Barricade 8. Djokovic continues to hold out.
Wilson Rush Pro
Worn by: Feliciano Lopez
Wilson is more known for its top-of-the-line tennis rackets, but the brand also dabbles in the footwear category. While most of its shoe lineup is geared towards recreational play, the appropriately named Rush Pro has found its way onto the feet of professional players like Feliciano Lopez. The low profile shoe maximizes acceleration with enhanced comfort thanks to its inner sleeve construction and forefoot TPU support.
Asics Gel-Resolution 5
Worn by: Gael Monfils, Robert Bautista-Agut
It's easy to see why professional players are drawn to the Asics Gel-Resolution series. As evident by my positive review of the shoe, the fifth generation Gel-Resolution is one of the best all-court tennis shoes currently on the market. It's got it all—a Flexion Fit upper that provides wrap-around support, Gel cushioning units in both the forefoot and heel and Ascis' Trusstic System, which reduces the weight of the shoe while maintaining its structural integrity.
Worn by: Andreas Seppi, Dmitry Tursunov
Fila reinvented itself in the tennis footwear market last year with the introduction of the Sentinel. Though it's the lone member of Fila's tennis court lineup, the Sentinel has a lot to offer in the form of comfort and versatility. The shoe performs exceptionally well on all surface types, and it is one of the most cushioned and most breathable shoes out today. The yellow and black version of the Sentinel seen above is part of Fila's "Center Court" collection for the Australian Open.
Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour
Worn by: Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych
Roger Federer is royalty in the tennis world. Not only has he been the most dominating men's player past decade, but he's also had some of the best signature sneakers in the game. To follow up Fed's long-time favorite Zoom Vapor 9 Tour, Nike unveiled the slightly updated 9.5 model for their ace. Not only that, but the Swoosh also rolled out a special "Australian Open" edition of the Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour for Federer to wear down under. Oh yeah, Tomas Berdych also played in the shoe down under (along with a few other players in the men's draw).
Yonex Power Cushion 308
Worn by: Leyton Hewitt
Before Australian Open champ Stanislas Wawrinka switched to the Yonex SHT-PRO EX model, he played in a different Yonex shoe, the Power Cushion 308. It's easy to see why too—the shoe is lightweight, durable and provides incredible shock absorption thanks to its Power Cushion midsole with ToughBird technology. Today, the shoe continues to be a popular choice among pros like Leyton Hewitt.
adidas Climacool adizero Feather III
Worn by: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fabio Fognini
The adidas adizero Feather series may not be on the feet of many house-hold names in tennis, however the shoe continues to be a popular choice for a number of pros. At the 2013 U.S. Open, the adizero Feather II was the most worn shoe in the men's singles draw. This year, adidas has already released the next version of the shoe, the Climacool adizero Feather III, and already the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Fabio Fognini have added the shoe to their arsenal.
adidas Barricade 7.0
Worn by: Novak Djokovic, Florian Mayer
Some players don't like to mess with a good thing. Novak Djokovic and Florian Mayer seem to be two of them. Even though adidas has come out with the next version of the Barricade, the two pros continue to stick with the older Barricade 7. It's a shoe Djokovic has had a ton of success in, so we get it. But in Mayer's case, he may want to make the switch to the Barricade 8 for some increased court speed.
Yonex SHT-PRO EX
Worn by: Stanislas Wawrinka
Thanks to Stan Wawrinka's huge win over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final, Yonex can officially rename the SHT-PRO EX the "shoe of a champion." No one expected this shoe to be standing atop the podium on Sunday, but then again, no one gave Wawrinka much of a chance against Rafa either—and look what happened. Huge with for both parties.
Nike Air Max Courtballistec 4.3
Worn by: Rafael Nadal, Jordan Thompson
Rafael Nadal has already won three Grand Slam titles in the Nike Air Max Courtballistec 4.3 dating back to 2012, and many other smaller ATP titles. Unfortunately, the top-ranked player couldn't pull out a fourth major in his trusty shoes at the 2014 Australian Open. As mentioned previously, Rafa opted for the Courtballistec 4.3 instead of the recently released Lunar Ballistec model down under. From the looks of it, he brought a few extra pairs to Melbourne Park for his impressive final run (see below).