Stan The (Big-Match) Man
Three Grand Slam finals. Three Grand Slam titles. Stan Wawrinka etched his name in the record books with his first US Open crown, stopping top seed and two-time champion Novak Djokovic 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday.
Wawrinka has risen to the occasion in big matches in recent years, moving to 3-0 in major finals and extending his staggering win streak in tour-level finals to 11 straight. All three Grand Slam title runs have included wins over the World No. 1 in the final, having previously defeated Rafael Nadal for the 2014 Australian Open crown and Djokovic in the Roland Garros final last year.
"This is amazing," said Wawrinka during the trophy presentation. "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."
With the win, Wawrinka secured qualification for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, joining Djokovic and Andy Murray at The O2 in London. He will be making his fourth consecutive appearance at the season finale, having reached the semi-finals in each of the past three years. Buy Tickets
Wawrinka, who fired 46 winners, including three aces, while saving an impressive 14 of 17 break points, prevailed after three hours and 55 minutes. After Djokovic took the first set in a tie-break, the Swiss showed his true mettle, breaking the defending champion early in the second, third and fourth sets. His steely resolve was on full display as he maintained his composure throughout the encounter, eventually triumphing on his second match point. Wawrinka is now 15-6 at the US Open when dropping the opening set.
"Today I was trying to stay with him," Wawrinka told the assembled media following the match. "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.
"There is no secret. If you want to beat the No. 1 player in the world, you have to give everything. 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."
Won First Three Major Finals (Open Era)
||2014 Australian Open, 2015 Roland Garros, 2016 US Open
||2003 Wimbledon, 2004 Australian Open, 2004 Wimbledon
||1997 Roland Garros, 2000 Roland Garros, 2001 Roland Garros
||1985 Australian Open, 1987 Australian Open, 1988 Wimbledon
||1974 Roland Garros, 1975 Roland Garros, 1976 Wimbledon
||1973 Australian Open, 1974 Wimbledon, 1974 US Open
Wawrinka became the fifth man in the Open Era to win multiple major singles crowns after turning 30, joining Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors. The 31-year-old is the oldest Grand Slam champion since Agassi at the 2003 Australian Open and also became the first man to win his first three majors at different events since Agassi.
Djokovic was bidding for his third US Open title and 13th at the major level. The Serbian's 21st Grand Slam final is second-most in history, only behind Roger Federer (27). He still owns a sizeable 19-5 lead in their growing FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.
"He definitely deserves to be mentioned in the mix of top players," Djokovic said about Wawrinka. "He's been around for so many years and he plays best in the big matches.
"I lost my nerves in the important moments. He kept his cool. I think that's what decided the match. I just didn't capitalise at all on my opportunities. I had plenty of them. It was a terrible conversion of the break points. Just terrible from my side.
"In matches like these, if you don't use the opportunities, the other guy comes and takes it. And that's what he did. That's why I said he was more courageous, because he stepped in and played aggressive where I was waiting for things to happen."