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Stan Wawrinka captures his second major title Sunday at Roland Garros, blasting Novak Djokovic off the court.

Brain Game: Sublime Stan Goes Aggressive

Power beat consistency. Down the line beat cross court. Offence beat defence, and coming forward beat staying back.

Power beat consistency. Down the line beat cross court. Offence beat defence, and coming forward beat staying back.

Stan Wawrinka employed ultra-aggressive, all-court tactics to stun Novak Djokovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the Roland Garros final, crushing double the amount of winners (60 to 30) than the Serb.

From start to finish, Wawrinka dictated play, pushing Djokovic well behind the baseline with ferocious groundstrokes that saw the Serb’s baseline winning percentage plummet from 56 per cent leading into the final, to only 44 per cent (75/172) against Wawrinka.

As the match unfolded, the world was wondering how long the Swiss could keep making his spectacular heavy punches land. In truth, it was his only pathway to victory, and he never deviated from the game plan. Coach Magnus Norman, who was runner-up at Roland Garros in 2000 to Gustavo Kuerten, drew up a masterful strategy, that had Wawrinka’s full commitment.

He simply overpowered the World No. 1.

Forehand Domination

Wawrinka’s forehand was by far the most dominant shot on the court, blasting 26 winners, with every other groundstroke winner on both sides of the net totaling one more at 27. Wawrinka hit 15 forehand winners standing in the deuce court, including seven spectacular frozen ropes, hit as hard as he could tag the ball right down the line.

Wawrinka also hit 10 forehand winners standing in the Ad court, including seven run-around winners back behind Djokovic’s backhand, and added one return winner on the second point of the deciding set.

The spectacular became routine for the number eight seed.

Backhand Down the Line

This single shot was a stroke of genius for Wawrinka, as it greatly diminished Djokovic’s cross court defensive prowess, and the Serb’s ability to dictate the flow of points from his own backhand corner. The threat to pull the trigger at will created a whole new baseline dynamic, especially as Wawrinka surged to the finish line in the fourth set.

With the match in the balance, Wawrinka’s backhand down the line was the single most important shot that turned the lights out on Djokovic. Wawrinka won the last three games of the match, hitting five pure backhand down the line winners in the final 22 points of the fourth set.

In the third set, Wawrinka broke Djokovic to love at 2-3, with Wawrinka blasting a forehand winner down the line at 0-15, and a backhand winner down the line on the very next point. The shot of the match happened a couple of games later with the Serb serving at 2-5, 15-0, as  Wawrinka threaded a low backhand winner between the net post and a court-side signage box that dropped the tennis world’s jaw straight to the ground.

Attacking the Net

The match featured many pivotal moments, but none more important than Wawrinka coming back from 0-40, at 3-4 in the fourth set. Djokovic had won seven straight points from  3-3, 15-40, and the match was wildly swinging back the Serb’s way.

From 3-4, 0-40, Wawrinka won five straight points on serve, finishing at the net on four of them, with the other being a service winner. When push came to shove, the front of the court is where he engaged Djokovic.

Overall, Wawrinka won 70 per cent (23/33) at the net, and 51 per cent (84/163) at the baseline.  Djokovic didn’t enjoy the same success coming forward, winning only 58 per cent (14/24) of his approach points. Wawrinka came to the net only four times in the opening set, which he lost, but came forward 24 times in the deciding set, to be a major factor in winning his second Grand Slam title.

Advantage Wawrinka

Djokovic had enjoyed great success with his cunning drop shot all tournament, but lost twice as many as he won (six to 12) in the final. Ultimately, he went to it too often, trying to escape the baseline barrage.

Wawrinka won only three more points than Djokovic in short rallies of 0-4 shots (72-69), and longer rallies of 9+ shots (26-23), but completely owned the mid-range points from 5-8 shots, winning 39 to 25.

Wawrinka played one of the best matches of his life to take the title. Sometimes it may look risky to play so aggressively, but the real risk lies in the safety of not going for it, not letting it ride.

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