Wawrinka: ‘You Have To Enjoy Suffering'
Swiss describes what it takes to be a Grand Slam champion
“There is no secret. If you want to beat the No. 1 player in the world, you have to give everything,” Stan Wawrinka said after beating Novak Djokovic for his third Grand Slam title at the US Open on Sunday. “After the match I was completely empty. I put everything on the court. Today I was trying to stay with him. 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.”
After dropping the first set in a tie-break, the Swiss threw himself behind every ground stroke to draw even, then closed out his third win in as many Grand Slam finals when the ultra-fit Djokovic wavered physically in the fourth set.
“You have to expect to suffer and you have to almost enjoy suffering,” Wawrinka said. “I was already feeling tired at the beginning of the match. I was feeling the cramps coming in the third set. In the fourth set I had some pain, but the most important was what I discussed with (Coach) Magnus Norman before the match. To keep fighting and try to win it.
“Today, before the final, I was nervous like never before. I was shaking in the locker room. When I had a final chat with Magnus, five minutes before the match, I started to cry. I was shaking,” Wawrinka revealed. “But I was convinced that my game was there. If I put up a fight on the court, I had a chance to win.”
Wawrinka’s fighting spirit at the US Open had been honed in the earlier rounds. The Swiss was a point away from being upset by British upstart Daniel Evans in the third round, but rebounded strongly to win in five sets.
“I don't play my best tennis in the first rounds, but I tried to find a way to improve each match,” Wawrinka said. “I was struggling with my game. I was hesitating. Against Evans, I put too much pressure on myself. I was not relaxed and he was playing really well. I had to fight and find solutions.
“Of course I was lucky to save match point against him, but the more I won, the better I felt. Yesterday at practice, I was feeling the ball. It was the best I’ve ever played.”
Even with a transcendent showing in Flushing Meadows, Wawrinka is not setting his sight on No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings just yet.
“I’ve always gone step by step. First I wanted to be a professional tennis player. Then it was to be Top 100, then Top 50. I never started with the idea to be No. 1 or to win Grand Slams,” Wawrinka said. “The only thing I want to do is to push my limits, to have no regrets.”