Wawrinka Upends Djokovic in 2016 US Open Final to Win Third Career Grand Slam
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
A less than 100% Novak Djokovic faced the one opponent he’s struggled to defeat in Grand Slam matches, Stan Wawrinka, in yesterday’s 2016 US Open final, and the crafty Wawrinka once again rode a strong backhand to victory over the world #1. Wawrinka prevailed 6-7 6-4 7-5 6-3 as he played some clutch tennis on the key points of the match, and Djokovic simply couldn’t maintain any semblance of momentum after taking the first set. The average set time was long, at an hour a set.
Djokovic got off to a hot start with an early break, although he gave up that break and needed a tiebreak to take the set. Wawrinka fired back though, he broke Djokovic twice in the second and third sets, break once more after Djokovic clawed back from early breaks he conceded. The Swiss went up two sets to one and after claiming an early break in the 4th, and dealing with Djokovic taking a medical timeout, the Swiss was steely on serve and took home his third career grand slam in resounding fashion.
Wawrinka has just one career Masters title, but now has 3 grand slams, and the veteran has surpassed Federer as the clear Swiss #1 now. Djokovic didn’t appear to be healthy or fit all tournament, and Wawrinka overcome any concerns about his fatigue and form to take advantage once again of an opportunity against Djokovic. Novak always seems to bring the best out in him.
After #2 Andy Murray was dumped out thanks to the heroics of Kei Nishikori, Wawrinka saw his draw open up, and he thumped the Japanese #1 in the semifinals to reach the final. Gael Monfils came out of the other side of the draw to reach the semis but was poor against a vulnerable Djokovic, and gave up his early hopes of an upset. Monfils had beaten Lucas Pouille in the quarterfinals after the young Frenchman played the match of his life to defeat Rafael Nadal in a five set match.
Wawrinka had to save a match point against Daniel Evans in round 3, where he looked like he might be exiting the tournament. He also beat Fernando Verdasco and Alessandro Giannessi in week 1. Juan Martin Del Potro was his imposing quarterfinal opponent, and altough he dropped a set, he won the match anyway, something that is true of all his matches since he faced Evans, including the 4th rounder against Illya Marchenko.
Djokovic had a sleep walkers draw, he got retirements/walkovers against Jiri Vesely, Mikhail Youzhny, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Jerzy Janowicz took a set in round 1 but was not a difficult opponent, and Kyle Edmund also rolled over to the world #1 in round 4. Still, that lack of match time by the time he reached the final may have haunted Djokovic, as his game was far from its peak.
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares beat Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to win the Doubles title. The re-emergence of Wawrinka, and a healthy Nadal, Del Potro, and Nishikori still bode well for a player outside of Murray being able to test Djokovic this fall heading into the World Tour finals in London.