Wawrinka wears down Djokovic for first US Open ti­tle, third Slam

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL -

NEW YORK (AP) — Stan Wawrinka is the first to ac­knowl­edge he hasn’t al­ways been the most con­sis­tent player — or the strong­est men­tally. That’s why, when he shows his met­tle dur­ing a match, he likes to point his right in­dex fin­ger to his tem­ple.

That sig­na­ture ges­ture got a lot of use in the U.S. Open fi­nal on Sept. 11, when Wawrinka sur­pris­ingly man­aged to wear down No­vak Djokovic and beat the de­fend­ing cham­pion 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 for his first U.S. Open ti­tle and third Grand Slam tro­phy over­all.

“He was the bet­ter player. He was tougher men­tally,” said Djokovic, of­fer­ing two of the high­est com­pli­ments a tennis player can re­ceive from the tal­ented and sturdy Serb ranked No. 1. “He knew what to do. And I was just un­lucky in some mo­ments. And that’s it.”

The 31-year-old Wawrinka is the old­est U.S. Open men’s cham­pion since Ken Rose­wall was 35 in 1970, and en­tered Sun­day hav­ing spent al­most ex­actly twice as much time on court as Djokovic dur­ing the course of the tour­na­ment: about 18 hours vs. about 9 hours.

“I played quite a lot of tennis these two weeks. I am com­pletely empty,” said No. 3 Wawrinka, who noted dur­ing the tro­phy cer­e­mony that Sun­day was the 15th an­niver­sary of the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

By break­ing in the fi­nal game of the sec­ond and third sets, and by saving 14 of 17 break points he faced, Wawrinka al­ready had gained the up­per hand by the time Djokovic clutched at his left leg and gri­maced af­ter miss­ing a fore­hand while get­ting bro­ken early in the fourth.

Djokovic was granted the un­usual chance to have a med­i­cal time­out at a time other than a changeover. He re­moved both shoes and socks so a trainer could help with toe blis­ters. Wawrinka com­plained about the 6-minute break, and Djokovic looked over and apol­o­gized. Later, Djokovic started limp­ing and re­ceived more treat­ment.

“We played al­most four hours,” said Djokovic, “and I think I can speak in the name of Stan, as well: We both felt it.”

Wawrinka has won only five of his 24 ca­reer meet­ings against Djokovic, but has now beaten the 12time ma­jor cham­pion on the way to each of his own Grand Slam ti­tles, in­clud­ing in the 2014 Aus­tralian Open quar­ter­fi­nals and 2015 French Open fi­nal.

Be­fore this matchup, Djokovic praised Wawrinka as “a big-match player,” and, boy, is he ever. Wasn’t al­ways, though: Play­ing in the shadow of his far­more-ac­com­plished Swiss coun­try­man and good pal, Roger Fed­erer, Wawrinka needed un­til his 35th ap­pear­ance at a ma­jor, at age 28, just to get to the semi­fi­nals for the first time.

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