After Angelique Kerber took the women’s crown on Saturday, it was the turn of Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka to script history in the 2016 US Open Championships on Sunday. He defeated the overwhelming favorite Novak Djokovic in the four-set final even if the fourth set was mired in an unseemly controversy. The Swiss would have gone out of the tournament, when playing against Great Britain’s Daniel Evans in the third round on September 3. The Brit held a match point against Wawrinka in the fourth-set tiebreak but he muffed it. Wawrinka survived and worked his way to the final. The 2016 US Open men’s final was a repeat of last year’s French Open championship game, where the two men contested for the title and Wawrinka had won in four sets. The Swiss emulated that feat at Flushing Meadows on Sunday and prevented Djokovic from defending his 2015 crown. Talking about history, Wawrinka became the oldest man in 46 years to lift the US Open crown, after Australia’s Ken Rosewall had won the tournament at age 35 in 1970. Going into the finals, Wawrinka was not the favorite and he slipped to an early 2-5 deficit in the opening set, before losing the first set on tiebreak. But the Swiss bounced back to win the next three sets in an amazing display of physical power and on the strength of his famous backhand that unleashed some breathtaking array of winners. The show ended with Wawrinka collecting his third Grand Slam crown after the 2014 Australian Open and 2015 French Open titles.
In his post-match interview after the final, Stan Wawrinka openly admitted that he came to US Open this year without expecting anything and just played along. The other finalist, Novak Djokovic had an even more bizarre journey through the tournament. The Serb had a walk-over in one match and in two others; his opponents retired midway due to injury concerns. Besides, the defending champion had been plagued with injury himself since his first-match loss to Juan Martin del Potro at the Rio Olympic Games last month. But to Djokovic’s credit, he still reached the US Open final and everyone expected him to beat Wawrinka at the Arthur Ashe stadium on Sunday. The Serbian world no.1 began pretty well by opening a 5-2 lead in the first set and held two set points, when Wawrinka served in the eighth game. However, the Swiss denied Djokovic by saving both points and managed to hold. Then he broke Djokovic to make the score 4-5 and finally forced the tiebreak with another service break. Djokovic managed to win the tiebreak but Wawrinka carried his forceful momentum into the second set to harry the defending champion. The Swiss mounted to a quick 4-1 lead in the second set, before Djokovic applied the push and leveled at 4-4. On his service next, Wawrinka took the score to 5-4 and broke Djokovic in the tenth game to level the set scores. The two sets had taken 1 hour 45 minutes and the final was already looking like a mini-classic.
In the third set, Wawrinka once again broke early and went into the lead. But a break-back by the Serb brought the match to the even keel. After the score reached 5-5, Djokovic served and was 30-0 in the eleventh game. At this juncture, the Swiss found a new energy and obtained a fantastic break by reeling off point after point. Then he served out for the third set to lead Djokovic 2-1 on sets. Now the Swiss saw a real chance to cow down the world no.1. But the fourth set also witnessed a shocking turn of events. The Serb was limping at the start and when he trailed Wawrinka 0-3, he was hardly able to move. It was here that the things soured a little bit even as Djokovic called for a trainer. Wawrinka went to the chair umpire and complained that Djokovic could call for medical trainer only during change-over. But the match officials allowed the break because Djokovic had a bleeding toe on his right foot. In the commentary box, John McEnroe, who handled the ESPN broadcast, said that Djokovic was feigning illness and all he wanted was some rest. However, when it was all over and Djokovic’s toe was taped, the proceedings continued. Wawrinka had already smelled victory and he finished the match in the ninth game with his trademark one-handed backhand that served him well throughout the match. The final victory score-line of 6-7, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 tells about the way Wawrinka diffused the title aspirations of the 2015 champion.
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