By Jake Davies
- Stan Wawrinka  defeats Novak Djokovic  6-7 6-4 7-5 6-3
- Wawrinka remains undefeated in Grand Slam Finals
NEW YORK, USA – Stan Wawrinka claimed his third Grand Slam title and his first US Open crown, outlasting World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic.
Stan Wawrinka  defeats Novak Djokovic  6-7(1) 6-4 7-5 6-3
Third seed Wawrinka blasted his way to a first US Open title as he prevailed the winner against the World No.1 Djokovic in a near four hour contest.
Djokovic, now 29, was setting his sights on a 13th grand slam title win and his third US Open triumph, but the brutality of the ball-striking from Wawrinka was too much, even for one of the greatest defenders in world tennis.
Wawrinka is globally renowned for his ferocious clubbing of the ball, but the regularity of those powerful blows took it’s toll on the World No.1 and defending champion Djokovic. The Serbian started well off the blocks. He held a break point to go a double break up in the first set, but Wawrinka clawed his way back to 4-4 and eventually the two prepared for a tiebreak. Djokovic take the first set tiebreak comfortably, but Wawrinka gave a reminder that he was mentally ready for a titanic tussle in the latter stages of this match.
The Swiss No.1 responded perfectly in Set 2 as he piled on the pressure by taking an early break lead, but Djokovic refused to go down without a fight. Wawrinka watched a Djokovic forehand miss the sideline and it was level at a set each.
A major talking point was whether Wawrinka could produce the attacking, consistent and brutal brand of tennis that he conjured up at the Roland Garros final of 2015, where he battered Djokovic’s resistance. Not many people knew how Djokovic was going to approach this match, but it became apparent that he was trying to find the right balance between cautious and attacking tennis.
Djokovic naturally enjoys playing long exchanges from the baseline, but he also did not want to invite Wawrinka inside the baseline. This would give Wawrinka the freedom to express himself with his fearsome groundstrokes off both sides. In turn, Djokovic wanted to ensure Wawrinka was doing most of the running on Arthur Ashe, and if he was primarily defending it would give the Swiss a massive hand towards the US Open trophy.
As the match progressed it was clear to see that Wawrinka was dominating proceedings as he fired winner after winner past Djokovic. Just like at the Australian Open in 2014 and at Roland Garros in 2015, Djokovic ran out of solutions on how to handle the firepower from the other side of the net.
Wawrinka found himself two sets to one up and up an early break in the fourth set. It became apparent that Djokovic was struggling physically and the World No.1 called for a trainer at *3-1 to Wawrinka. Wawrinka, who was in full control of the match, felt anguished at the fact that Djokovic had taken a medical time out ahead of his own service game.
Wawrinka seemed to lose his focus as he faced multiple break points, but he held his nerve and more importantly his serve, in what proved to be the decisive hold.
Djokovic came into New York with a lot of question marks and doubts over his personal life, his form since the grass season and whether he had a realistically great amount of matchplay – it all seemed to catch up on him in the latter stages of the US Open final.
Wawrinka, now a three-time grand slam champion, has made tremendous progress under the tutelage of Magnus Norman. Norman, who took Robin Soderling to two Grand Slam finals, helped Wawrinka become a very good player to a great player in a matter of years. Wawrinka has bought into Norman’s philosophy and both have reaped the benefits to their commitment to Wawrinka’s tennis on and off court.
Wawrinka will still experience unexpected losses, but this US Open final has reminded people that Wawrinka can blast any opponent off the court when he is feeling confident about his tennis. This is the third time he has beaten a World No.1 in a Grand Slam final – and each time he took the racquet out of his opponents hand.
At 31 years of age, the 2016 US Open champion passed the physical examination that Djokovic inflicts – does Wawrinka have many more memorable slam triumphs to come?
Wawrinka’s US Open title victory sets up the upcoming Australian Open magnificently. Andy Murray, Djokovic and Wawrinka have all played some inspired tennis down under over the years. Roger Federer will also be returning to the tour and many of the next generation will try to make a name for themselves in 2017.
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