For the 3rd time since the 2014 Australian Open, Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka has stunned a far more fancied rival, on this occasion World Number 1 Novak Djokovic to win his 3rd Grand Slam title.
Like Wawrinka’s two previous Slam conquests, the contest was a tightly fought 4-setter to the tune of, 6-7 6-4 7-5 6-3.
Djokovic started by far the stronger in the first set, seizing an early break and his intensity was far too much for Wawrinka to handle. However, up 5-3 and serving for the first set, Wawrinka forced his first break on Djokovic’s serve ultimately taking the set to a tiebreaker. The World Number 1 recovered his dominance comparatively quickly to take the opening tiebreaker.
The momentum in the second set swung back and forth, with both players breaking serve in the opening 7 games. It was the 12 time Major champion however who blinked first, losing his serve down 5-4 and handing the set to Wawrinka.
The end of the second set was a major turning point in the match, Djokovic instead of having a two set lead, was now facing a fired up Wawrinka who’s ground strokes were starting to take their toll.
Inspiring memories of his staggering performance against the same man in last year’s French Open final, Wawrinka’s ground strokes, particularly his backhand began to break down Djokovic’s notorious defence. Mid-way through the 3rd set it became abundantly clear that Djokovic was clearly struggling physically, and his call for a medical timeout certainly raised eyebrows because it didn’t come at the change of ends.
Djokovic isn’t exactly endeared to the Flushing Meadows crowd, who could forget last years enormously partisan crowds support of Roger Federer. To be fair to the Serb, the complaint appeared genuine, but the unscheduled 6-minute break in the 4th set clearly had a negative effect on Wawrinka’s game. The Swiss dynamo faced 3 break points in his next service game, bravely holding serve on each occasion.
That was the last serious challenge Djokovic offered in the match, with Wawrinka only requiring two match points to seal the deal.
Sunday night’s victory was huge for Wawrinka’s legacy, a legacy that continues to expand even at the age of 31. Incredibly he’s only a Wimbledon title away from a career Grand Slam! For Djokovic, he still holds a formidable lead in the world rankings, but the second half of 2016 has showed if anything that the gap is narrowing.