Stan 'the man' Wawrinka put on a stunning display at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in the men's final of the US Open to defeat World No.1 Novak Djokovic 6-7, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. This was Stan's third Grand Slam win, and he is now just one Wimbledon crown away from completing his career slam.
Novak Djokovic is no stranger to the US Open. Sunday was an attempt to win his third title at Arthur Ashe stadium, and his 13th major overall. His counterpart Stanislas Wawrinka was appearing in the US open finals for the very first time. He had spent almost twice as long on the court compared to Novak and was on the verge of crashing out against Dan Evans in the third round where he had to save a match point.
The 31-year old had the chance to become the oldest champion since 1970 if he managed to put one over the Serb. If that wasn’t enough motivation, a win would complete 3/4th of a career slam for Stan following his Australian Open title in 2014, and the Roland Garros win in 2015. He had beaten Novak on both occasions en route to the title. On paper, this was a cracker of a match and for the most part, it lived up to its billing.
The first set was a state of sloppy affairs with both the players making plenty of unforced errors. Stan was broken in his very first service game, and the ever so orgasmic backhand, that had become one of the most lethal and brutal strokes in the game, went missing. He wasn’t hitting those forehand winners down the line either, and Djokovic was ahead in the match without much ado.
Uncharacteristically, Novak failed to close out the first set when leading 5-4, and we ended up in a tie-break which was utterly dominated by the Serb (7-1), and the first set was wrapped up at 7-6. There was much abuzz about the fact that Djokovic was 51-0 at the US Open when having won the first set (53-2 in the finals). A quite staggering fact that was about to be shattered into pieces by Stan.
Come the second set, and it was more or less a similar story. Wawrinka wasn’t at his best, and Djokovic wasn’t playing that great either. Stan’s comeback in the match seemed a matter of when rather than if. The baseline strokes were getting better, and the backhand/ forehand winners were starting to flow. The match was largely
After having saved the first with a delicate drop shot, Novak succumbed to yet another unforced error in the second, much to the appreciation of the New York crowd. Tied at 1 set apiece, Stan’s trademark finger to the temple, signifying his mental strength to dig deep when it mattered, was on display.
The third set began on a sorry note for Djokovic. Wawrinka’s backhand winners were finding the lines, and the Serb could do little about them. Wawrinka broke early to race into a 3-0 lead. But if anything, it was typical of this topsy-turvy match that Djokovic got the break back, and we were tied up at 5 games all.
With another tie-break on the cards, Novak slipped up at 5-6 handing Stan a chance to take the set and a 2-1 lead. A deep backhand winner did just that and sent the Arthur Ashe crowd into raptures. Novak was 51-0 at the US Open when having the first set, but that stat was about to go out the window, on top of a hill and jump right off to kill itself.
The momentum was with Stan now. He had been the better player over the course of the 3 sets, and Djokovic was struggling with an apparent foot injury (later affirmed as a blister). The 4th set followed suit, and Wawrinka was 3-1 up again with an early break. Then came a delay as the Serb called for the trainer, and Stan was not pleased about having to wait at such a crunch time. What followed was a long and tedious service game by Stan that he barely managed to hold but did just enough in the end to sail to a 4-1 lead. The set remained on course, and Wawrinka served out the 4th set 6-3 to complete a quarter of a career slam.
For someone who’s been known as ‘the other Swiss player’ for almost a decade of his career, it’s not too bad an achievement. 2 of his 3 Grand Slam titles have come post the age 30 and if late bloomer was ever a term, Stan Wawrinka does full justice to it. Stan’s story is even more spectacular when you see that it took him until he was 28, and a total of 35 major appearances, to reach his first semi-final and now he stands tied with Andy Murray with his career grand slam tally. The Australian Open in 2014, followed up by the Roland Garros in 2015 and now the US Open in 2016. If he now manages to win the Wimbledon crown in 2017, it will be quite the fairytale for the Swiss maestro.