Wawrinka Powers Past Djokovic to Win U.S. Open

by John on September 12, 2016

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Stan Wawrinka spotted defending champion Novak Djokovic the first set and then rallied to take the next three, defeating the top-ranked Serb 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 in the final of the U.S. Open late yesterday afternoon. The title, Wawrinka’s first at Flushing Meadows, was the No. 3-ranked Swiss’ third Grand Slam crown in three Grand Slam finals and ran his win streak in tour-level finals to 11 straight. All three runs at the majors have included wins over the World No. 1 in the championship match. Wawrinka defeated Rafael Nadal for the 2014 Australian Open crown and Djokovic in the French Open final last year. “This is amazing,” Wawrinka said afterward. “I came here without expecting to win it. When I stepped on the court, I tried to win every match. I did everything today against Novak. The crowd and atmosphere was something I’ve never had before. It’s an amazing night.” Wawrinka improved to 5-19 against Djokovic, so he hasn’t exactly had the Serb’s number in the past. But Sunday he did. After starting slowly, Wawrinka took control of the baseline and outhit the best baseliner in the game. The Swiss had 46 winners to 30 for Djokovic, while committing 51 unforced errors compared to 46 for the Serb. Wawrinka also saved 14 of 17 break points against perhaps the best returner on the tour. There was no quit in the 31-year-old Swiss. “Today I was trying to stay with him,” Wawrinka said. “I was trying to be tough with myself, trying not to show anything, not to show any pain, not to show any cramps, not to show anything. I was suffering on the court, but I’m happy and proud with what I have achieved today.” Djokovic, who won the Australian and French Opens, along with five other tournaments earlier in the year, hasn’t quite been the same player since a first-round loss at the Rio Olympics. A lingering sore left wrist, picked up just before Brazil, and problems with both shoulders and his right elbow during the New York fortnight, along with a foot issue in the final, certainly didn’t help the Serb. But Djokovic offered no excuses. “I lost my nerves in the important moments. He kept his cool. I think that’s what decided the match,” Djokovic said. “I guess sometimes it happens, even though you have the experience and know what to do. Just the heat of the moment and importance of the match, I guess, was too strong for me at certain periods of the match. Just if you lose your cool, the match can go away.” Serving at 5-3 in the final set, Wawrinka fell behind 0-30 and for just a moment it seemed Djokovic might get back in it. But the Swiss won five of the last six points, and victory was his after three hours and 55 minutes. Wawrinka won 144 points, Djkovic 143, and both players were spent. “There is no secret. If you want to beat the No. 1 player in the world, you have to give everything,” Wawrinka said. “You have to accept to suffer and you have almost to enjoy to suffer. Because I think this Grand Slam was the most painful, physically and mentally that I ever played.”

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