FRESH from his US Open win, Stan Wawrinka consolidated his third-place seed in the latest ATP rankings released yesterday, closing the gap on Andy Murray, who holds on to second. Wawrinka shocked world number one Novak Djokovic in the US Open final on September 11, shaking off a first set loss to win 6-7 (1/7), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
Despite his defeat, Djokovic still dominates the rankings ahead of Murray, with Wawrinka next and Rafael Nadal moving up from fifth to fourth place after losing in the fourth round to Frenchman Lucas Pouille.
Kei Nishikori of Japan dumped Murray out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage and leaps two places in the rankings to fifth while Roger Federer, who missed the Open, slides down three places to seventh.
Wawrinka, described by Djokovic as a player who rises to the big occasion like no other, admitted he was a mass of nerves before the championship match.
“I was shaking in the locker room,” Wawrinka said, adding that during last-minute discussions with coach Magnus Norman, “I start to cry”.
“I was completely shaking,” said Wawrinka, although he added that through it all he remained convinced that he had the game to win.
That’s exactly what Wawrinka did after shaking off the loss of the first set to deny Djokovic, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, a second straight US Open title. It was also the third time the Swiss Wawrinka beat a reigning number one in a major final.
Wawrinka had already been pushed to the limit in reaching the final, having spent nearly 18 hours on the court over the tournament.
He saved a match point in a five-set thriller over unheralded Briton Dan Evans in the third round, before having to rally against former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals, and escaped resurgent former champion Juan Martin del Potro in a quarterfinal four-setter.
“I think this Grand Slam was the most painful, physically and mentally, that I ever played,” Wawrinka said. “I was feeling tired already at the beginning of the match. I was feeling the cramp coming in the third set.”
Feeling pain in the fourth, Wawrinka said he was determined “not to show anything” but just to “give everything and keep fighting and go try to win it”.
Wawrinka, who had handed Djokovic two of his biggest Grand Slam disappointments, including in the French Open final last year, said he expected his marathon tournament to be capped by an endurance test against the Serb.
“There is no secret,” Wawrinka said. “If you want to beat the number one player in the world you have to give everything.”
Wawrinka said things weren’t so difficult in 2014, when he won his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, downing Djokovic en route to a meeting with then-number one Rafael Nadal in the final.
Wawrinka said his late career success is not the product of any grand design, but just the culmination of years of dedication.
“First I wanted to be a professional tennis player,” he said. “That means living with your passion, with your sport. Then [my goal] was to be top 100, then top 50.”
“I never start anything [saying] I want to be number one, I want to win a Grand Slam. For me, it’s always step by step.
“The only thing I want to do is push the limit.” –
Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the men’s singles final of the 2016 US Open on September 11.