Wawrinka’s French Open win signals new emergence
<g data-gr-id="39">“In</g> the end of the day he was just a better player,” said World No.2 Novak Djokovic about Stanislas Wawrinka after losing his third Roland Garros final in four years. That statement is, in a way, a standard one by any player across sports when conceding defeat, but on Sunday on Court Philippe Chatrier, the statement was truer than true.
World No.8 Wawrinka was better than World No.1 Djokovic for 3 hours and 12 minutes in the summit clash and not only did Wawrinka play the best tennis of his life, but also shredded the Serbian’s game ruthlessly.
Seldom is the ‘Djoker’ outplayed in the tennis court, but Wawrinka’s rather simplistic approach of hitting every shot with power got the better of Djokovic’s otherwise impeccable defensive play. The numbers show the Swiss player’s dominance, for he hit twice as many winners as Djokovic (60 to 30).
Wawrinka is a marathon man who will stretch his opponents, and at times himself, to gain the upper hand as opposed to the likes of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal who have the ability to leave their opponents dumbstruck with sheer brilliance. And the 30-year-old did exactly that by repeatedly hitting the lines with precision, stretching Djokovic inch by inch and taking him to his limits and thus denying him a career Grand Slam.
On top of the relentless <g data-gr-id="33">ground strokes</g>, Wawrinka’s one-handed backhand - considered to be the best in the men’s circuit at the moment - provided the killer blow each time Djokovic tried to dictate terms. One such backhand went around the net and landed inside the court and stunned Djokovic.
What was heartening to see was Wawrinka’s bold approach against the World No.1 in the French Open final on Sunday. It was similar to how he had overcome Federer in the quarterfinals and Djokovic in the epic quarterfinal of the 2014 Australian Open. Wawrinka and Djokovic played gruelling five sets with the fifth going 9-7 in favour of the former. That match proved that Wawrinka is ready to take on the elite and after claiming his maiden Grand Slam in the tournament, a second at the French Open reaffirms that he is here to stay.
Wawrinka jumped four places to fourth in the rankings with this victory and looking back at the start of the tournament, no one would have bet their money on the <g data-gr-id="29">Swiss</g> but he proved wrong.
Wawrinka was going through a bitter divorce and it would have been hard for him to focus, but not only did he reverse his poor run of form, he went all the way to become only the third player to claim the Coupe des Mousquetaires Trophy in 11 years (Nadal, nine-time winner; Federer, once).
This stunning victory also prompts one to ask whether the dominance of the Triumvirate of Federer,
Nadal and Djokovic is finally weakening. The trio’s command over the sport since 2003 has been unparalleled, with 39 Grand Slams between them in 12 years, but sample this: since 2011 - Djokovic’s landslide year where he claimed three Grand Slams - the Serbian has been in 14 finals and has managed to come out on top only four times. Federer’s last Grand Slam win was Wimbledon 2012 and Nadal now finds himself out of the top 10.