Saturday 10 December 2016

French Open glory for Wawrinka

Published 07/06/2015 | 17:40

Stan Wawrinka lifts the cup after defeating Novak Djokovic in the French Open Final
Stan Wawrinka lifts the cup after defeating Novak Djokovic in the French Open Final
Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka hugs Novak Djokovic after winning the French Open final

Stan Wawrinka defied the odds to win his first French Open title after the Swiss recorded a shock four-set victory over world number one Novak Djokovic.

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Djokovic was the overwhelming favourite to record his 29th consecutive win and complete a career Grand Slam at Roland Garros, but Wawrinka produced a scintillating display to defeat the Serb 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4.

The victory is only Wawrinka's second in 18 meetings against Djokovic and means the world number nine now has a second grand slam title to add to his success at the Australian Open in 2014.

Djokovic had beaten nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and Britain's Andy Murray en route to the final, but Wawrinka, who won the boys' singles title at Roland Garros in 2003, cemented his place among the elite with an outstanding performance.

The tone was set in the opening game as Djokovic earned a break point but Wawrinka edged an enthralling 39-shot rally, the longest of the tournament so far, to survive and hold.

Wawrinka was eager to dictate the points, stepping through the baseline and unleashing his heavy groundstrokes but they resulted in errors as well as winners and Djokovic's defence was often up to the task.

Another break point came and went for the world number one in the fifth game but at 3-3, he finally made one count as a backhand wide from Wawrinka conceded 40-0, before a double fault allowed Djokovic to convert.

Serving for the set at 5-4, Djokovic was fortunate to hear Wawrinka's forehand winner called out, particularly as hawk-eye would have judged it in, which opened up two set points.

Wawrinka saved both with two thundering passing shots before earning one chance to break, but Djokovic held his nerve to serve out the first set.

The Swiss was not deterred as his hitting became more persistent and more precise in the second, but five break points came and went - the fifth prompting and angry lashing on the net - before he finally took his chance.

It came at the perfect time too as Djokovic, serving to stay in the set, hit an uncharacteristic forehand long as Wawrinka deservedly drew level.

Djokovic mangled his racket, which almost bounced into a ball-boy, and the Serb's troubles were far from over as Wawrinka's dominance continued with two stupendous winners in the sixth game to break and lead 4-2.

Djokovic was rattled and Wawrinka compounded his opponent's misery with another thundering backhand before serving out to put his opponent behind in sets for the first time in the tournament.

The momentum seemed firmly with the Swiss and while a sloppy service game handed Djokovic a lifeline at the start of the fourth, he broke back to level at 3-3.

Djokovic came under pressure again on his serve as Wawrinka opened up two break points but the world number one found a new level to save both, the second with a diving volley to survive and lead 4-3.

It felt like a turning point but Wawrinka refused to lie down and he came back from 40-0 in the next game to pass the pressure back on to Djokovic before unleashing another stunning backhand pass to break and serve for the championship.

Djokovic is renowned for his resilience and he saved one match point with a composed volley but there was no fairy-tale fightback as a Wawrinka backhand sailed past and confirmed a stunning victory in three hours and 12 minutes.

Press Association

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