An up­set in French Open f inal

Swiss player’s stunning back­hand wins French Open ti­tle and keeps Serb from com­plet­ing a ca­reer Grand Slam.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS -

Top-seeded No­vak Djokovic is de­nied the ca­reer Grand Slam, los­ing to Stan Wawrinka.

PARIS — Mo­ments be­fore his third French Open fi­nal in four years, No­vak Djokovic jogged in a sta­dium hall­way near a poster of the Coupe des Mous­que­taires, the sil­ver tro­phy awarded to the men’s cham­pion at the only ma­jor tour­na­ment he has never won.

But the top-seeded Serb got no closer to his­tory. This time, it was Stan Wawrinka’s turn to come be­tween Djokovic and the ti­tle at Roland Gar­ros that he needs for a ca­reer Grand Slam.

The eighth-seeded Wawrinka and his mag­i­cal, one­handed back­hand. Wawrinka won his first French Open cham­pi­onship and sec­ond ma­jor ti­tle by stunning Djokovic, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, in a su­perbly played match Sun­day.

“I know he’s look­ing for that ti­tle,” Wawrinka said. “I hope he will get one, one day, be­cause he de­serves one.”

Wawrinka ex­ited in the first round in Paris a year ago. And he had lost 17 of his last 20 matches against Djokovic. But Wawrinka would not re­lent on this sun­lit af­ter­noon, com­pil­ing twice as many win­ners, 60 to 30.

“Cer­tainly one of the best matches of my ca­reer,” Wawrinka said, “if not the best.”

That beau­ti­ful back­hand of his was a big rea­son; one even made its way around the net post be­fore land­ing on the red clay.

An­other back­hand earned the match’s last break, to 5-4 in the fourth set. Yet an­other fin­ished off Djokovic’s 28-match win­ning streak.

Djokovic called the stroke “one of the best one­handed back­hands that I have seen.”

The 30-year-old Wawrinka, so long in the shadow of his Swiss Davis Cup team­mate and pal Roger Fed­erer, added to the cham­pi­onship he won at last year’s Aus­tralian Open. That’s when Wawrinka be­came the first man in 21 years to beat the top two seeds en route to a Grand Slam ti­tle. He du­pli­cated that in Paris, elim­i­nat­ing No. 2 Fed­erer in the quar­ter­fi­nals be­fore top­pling Djokovic.

When Djokovic re­ceived the sil­ver plate given to the los­ing fi­nal­ist, the specta- tors gave him an un­usu­ally long ova­tion. Djokovic shook his head and his eyes welled with tears.

“Not easy to stand there as a run­ner-up again,” Djokovic said, “but I lost to a bet­ter player who played some coura­geous ten­nis.”

The 28-year-old Djokovic has won eight Grand Slam cham­pi­onships: five at the Aus­tralian Open, two at Wim­ble­don and one at the U.S. Open. He must wait a year for an­other chance to be­come the eighth man with at least one ti­tle from each ma­jor.

Djokovic came up short against Rafael Nadal in the 2012 and 2014 fi­nals. He cleared that hur­dle this year, de­feat­ing the nine-time cham­pion in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Djokovic then de­feated Andy Mur­ray in a two-day, five-set semi­fi­nal that con­cluded about 25 hours be­fore Sun­day’s start.

“Maybe in some im­por­tant mo­ments, I didn’t feel I had that ex­plo­siv­ity in the legs, but, look, at the end of the day, [Wawrinka] was just a bet­ter player,” Djokovic said.

Nor­mally, it’s Djokovic’s slid­ing, stretch­ing, body-con­tort­ing de­fense that wears down op­po­nents, but he looked spent af­ter lengthy base­line ex­changes that went 20, 30, even 40 strokes.

“You go through emo­tions,” Djokovic said. “Of course I was more ner­vous than any other match.”

Do­minique Faget AFP/Getty Images

STAN WAWRINKA cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning a ma­jor for the sec­ond time in his ca­reer.

Do­minique Faget AFP/Getty Images

STAN WAWRINKA, who ousted the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in his ti­tle run, reacts dur­ing the four-set fi­nal.

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