The one potent weapon that Stan Wawrinka employed against the world no.1 Novak Djokovic in the final was the one-handed backhand. He misfired on a few occasions but by and large, he was consistent in its execution. After losing the first set, Wawrinka roared back in the game to nullify Djokovic’s powerful onslaught in the next three. The last shot of the match was also a scorching down-the-line backhand winner and the Swiss emerged as the new French Open champion at Roland Garros on Sunday night. This was the second Grand Slam for Stan Wawrinka after he had beaten Rafael Nadal in the 2014 Australian Open. Many people thought that Wawrinka had won at Melbourne because Nadal was sick but at Roland Garros the Swiss signed off in an emphatic fashion against the world’s best tennis player. For too long, Wawrinka played his tennis in the shadow of his countryman Roger Federer but now the 30-year old Swiss has a pair of Grand Slams. For Djokovic, the dream of taking the only Grand Slam that had been eluding him, lay crumbled after his big quarterfinal victory against nine-time champion Rafael Nadal. Just when tennis pundits thought that the world no.1 had become unbeatable after his 28-match winning streak, Wawrinka proved them wrong. Two days ago, Wawrinka was whistled by the Paris crowd after he beat local hope Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals but in the crunch game he overwhelmed Djokovic with his power. With his convincing victory over Djokovic, Wawrinka also got rid of the ridiculous tag of being hailed as a one-Slam wonder.
As the match began, the early exchanges indicated that the French Open would go Djokovic’s way as the Serb played and dictated terms to the Swiss in the first set. Nerves were palpable in breezy conditions on Philippe Chatrier as Djokovic kept nullifying Wawrinka’s powerful shots. The set went on serves until the seventh game, when Wawrinka strayed in his shot-making and made too many errors. Then the Swiss committed a double fault and gifted away a break to Djokovic for a 4-3 lead. With spring in his steps, the Serb mounted pressure and coolly pocketed the first set 6-4. As they went into set no.2, Djokovic looked to be on course for his much-awaited Roland Garros title. But Wawrinka had other ideas and he retaliated with a series of pin-pointed shots. In Djokovic’s first three service games, Wawrinka held five break points but Djokovic held on. That zoomed Wawrinka’s confidence as he began to cut down on his errors. The power of Wawrinka’s clattering groundstrokes had already begun to disturb Djokovic’s rhythm and he slammed his racket on the ground not once but twice. On the second time the racket broke and crowd booed. The chair umpire issued a code of conduct warning to the world no.1. Wawrinka broke Djokovic on his serve at 4-5 down, when the Serb’s backhand went too long over the baseline.
In the third set, Djokovic appeared weary after his two day marathon against Andy Murray but he hung on. Wawrinka broke early yet again and at 3-2 on Djokovic’s serve, produced another lethal set of winners to obtain the second break. The Swiss had a break point against him in his next service game but he managed to save it. By this time, the Serb had stopped sending down anything that Wawrinka couldn’t deal with. By a magical backhand winner around the net, Wawrinka made it 5-2 and after the Serb held his serve in the eighth game, Wawrinka took the set 6-3 when he served next.
Djokovic composed himself in the fourth set and opened a 3-1 lead. But the Swiss came back with a vengeance to break back after an amazing 30-shot rally. The Serb responded with holding three break points against Wawrinka in the next game. But the Swiss remained composed and brought himself back from the brink and held his service. Not only that, Wawrinka broke Djokovic once again with an exquisite combination of soft touches at the net and cracking winners. Philippe Chatrier rocked as the Swiss got ready to serve for the title. It was definitely a tense game but Wawrinka displayed nerves of steel and on the championship point brought up another one-handed backhand down-the-line winner to complete the 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
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