By Obaid ur Rehman.
For the third time in the past three years, Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka has done the toughest thing in tennis by stopping Novak Djokovic in the latter stages of Grand Slam tournaments. His third grand slam victory came in the US Open Finale with the score 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 that gave him a third major singles title at the age of 31. Before that win, Wawrinka surprised Djokovic in the quarterfinals en route to 2014 Australian Open title, then Wawrinka stunned him in the final to win the 2015 French Open and now he has beaten him again in a final at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday evening. Stanislas Wawrinka had to solve all the riddles of the elastic Djokovic’s game to win the contest at all the above mentioned finals and Swiss did his job perfectly.
At this stage now it is hard to call this one an upset because Wawrinka has always outclassed Djokovic at major eves in a champions’ style. Although Wawrinka certainly had to overcome plenty of shaky and pressurized moments as in the third round, he saved a match point against the British outsider Dan Evans. Then five minutes before he walked on court to play Djokovic in a mega final, he broke down in tears while speaking to his coach, Magnus Norman. “I was really nervous, like never before. I was completely shaking”, Wawrinka said.
But Wawrinka repeatedly pointed to his own temple after big rallies in the whole tournament to emphasize the mental side of his success and proved without any doubt that he knows how to handle the biggest tennis moments under extreme pressure. In the start of the match, Wawrinka looked completely disturbed and shaky, and Djokovic was in full flow and had lead of 4-1 games in the first set. Wawrinka reassembled his fighting spirits, foot works and ranges of the shots he had to play and did his best to come back but eventually lost the first set in a tiebreaker though 7-6(1).
Djokovic, while talking about Wawrinka, said; “He just steps in, he loves to play the big matches. He comes up with his best game.” Since teaming up with his coach Magnus Norman, former World No. 2 from Sweden in 2013, Wawrinka has improved his game to a magnificent extent and finally found a way to build up his level to a higher gear. Although he is not as consistent threat to Djokovic but when he is in the right form and rhythm, it becomes next to impossible to beat Stan the Man. He even then becomes a dangerous threat to everyone, including Novak Djokovic. The most exciting statistic is that Wawrinka is now 11-0 in his last 11 Finals and a 3-0 in Grand Slam Finals.
Magnus Norman in a statement said that Wawrinka has a very good potential while playing big matches, infact he is a player of bigger tournaments. He could be pretty much vulnerable in the beginning of tournaments, but once he gets going, there is no one stopping Wawrinka. He quoted that in the third round, Wawrinka was too much up and down to compete at his best and this problems needs to needs to be resolved. He stated that yet the team couldn’t find the key to look into Wawrinka’s issue of not being consistent at times, but inspite of that, when he is on his own and keeps on playing a lot of tennis, it’s very difficult for his opponents to beat him.
Wawrinka finally managed to hold firm in a 3 Hour 55 Minute Match despite two late injury timeouts in the fourth set by Djokovic, who received treatment on both feet as his toenails were off and bleeding. Wawrinka, after claiming 2nd Set, was also dominant on Djokovic and grabbed the third set as well and in no time in the fourth set, he was there for Championship Point. Wawrinka saved 14 out of 17 Break Points and played delicate sliced backhand winners with huge hitting down the base lines. He became victorious in US Open Final with 51 unforced errors with many of them came after extended rallies and 46 winners.
No. 3 Seed, Stanislas Wawrinka might not be able to give that much tough time to Djokovic which his fellow countryman Roger Federer and Spaniard Rafael Nadal have given to Djokovic during their reign. But Wawrinka has the ability to do consistent damage to Djokovic from anywhere on the court. His forehand is heavy and his single-handed backhand is one of the game’s great and most telegenic weapons. He has the ability to serve with energy to keep Djokovic away from returns and he has also an enough touch at the net to push him forward as well.
World No. 1 Djokovic has got so many strengths and no real weaknesses as well. He came out strong on Sunday and had never lost a US Open match in singles after winning the first set. Now that streak is over and Wawrinka has beaten him in three Grand Slam tournaments despite losing the first set. Djokovic came out on court at the final having spent nearly half as much time on court as Wawrinka due to opponents’ walkovers and mid-match retirements, but he had physical concerns too before and during the final contest, including a left wrist problem. 10 days before the start of US Open, his team was also debating about his withdrawal from tournament due to injuries. But he decided to play and got lucky, getting plenty of extra time as well to recover during the tournament. But his luck ran out against Wawrinka, who is now missing only one trophy of Wimbledon in his Grand Slam Cabinet.
The writer is Islamabad based Journalist / Research Analyst and writes on Politics, Current Affairs, Social Issues and Sports. He can be reached at;