Monday, September 12, 2016

Wawrinka comes up big again, wins U.S. Open

Stan Wawrinka, shown at Indian Wells
in March, defeated Novak Djokovic
in four sets on Sunday to win his first
U.S. Open title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The bigger the occasion, the better Stan Wawrinka plays.
   Not a bad trait to have.
   Wawrinka improved to 3-0 in Grand Slam finals, all against the No. 1 player, with a 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday for his first U.S. Open title.
   It was Wawrinka's 11th consecutive win in a tournament final. Still, Wawrinka was so nervous before Sunday's match in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., that he was shaking and even started to cry, The Associated Press reported.
   "I don't want to lose the final in a Grand Slam, that simple. That's the only reason," the third-seeded Wawrinka, 31, told reporters. "(It's) the feeling of: You don't want to lose. I don't want to come to the court and lose a final. So close, so far."
   Not to worry, as Wawrinka used his punishing groundstrokes -- including that sensational one-handed backhand -- to beat Djokovic for only the fifth time in 24 career matches and collect $3.5 million. 
   Wawrinka, who saved a match point in the third round against recent Aptos (Calif.) Challenger champion Daniel Evans of Great Britain, became the oldest U.S. Open men's champion since Ken Rosewall was 35 in 1970. 
   All of Wawrinka's Grand Slam titles have come since his 28th birthday and since he hired former world No. 2 Magnus Norman of Sweden as his coach in 2013. 
   Having also beaten Rafael Nadal to win the 2014 Australian Open and Djokovic to capture the 2015 French Open, Wawrinka is three-fourths of the way to a career Grand Slam. He has reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals twice, in 2014 and 2015.
   The 29-year-old Djokovic, who apparently hurt his left leg early in the fourth set Sunday, remained tied with Roy Emerson for fourth place with 12 career Grand Slam singles titles. Roger Federer holds the record with 17, and Nadal and Pete Sampras are tied for second with 14.     
   Since winning the French Open, completing a career Grand Slam, in June for his fifth title in the last six majors, Djokovic has gone 0 for 2. He lost in the third round at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey.
   Only a four-set loss to Wawrinka in last year's French Open final prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man to achieve a calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

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