Inspired Wawrinka tames Djokovic to win French Open
PARIS – There were no jeers this time as Swiss Stan Wawrinka defied the odds to win the French Open with a courageous 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 victory over world number one Novak Djokovic in an enthralling final on Sunday.
The eighth seed, booed by the crowd when he played French opponents this year, handed Serbian Djokovic his third defeat in three Roland Garros finals to add a second major to his 2014 Australian Open title.
“I played the match of my life, it’s hard to believe. Playing against Novak was one of the biggest challenges. I know how much he wanted this Roland Garros,” Wawrinka said courtside.
“It was a crazy atmosphere these two weeks. I’d like to thank you.”
Djokovic, who beat nine-times champion Rafa Nadal and British third seed Andy Murray en route to the final was gallant in defeat after yet another French Open heartache. “Congratulations to Stan, his team, his family,” he said. “It’s not easy for me to speak right now but there are things in life that are more important than victory, it’s respect,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for you Stan, you’re a great champion with a big heart, you deserve this title.”
Wawrinka used his superb one-handed backhand to devastating effect, hitting flat groundstrokes that wore down the eight-times grand slam champion Djokovic, who was looking to complete a career grand slam in Paris.
The Swiss sealed victory on his second match point with his 60th winner, a flashing backhand down the line that made him the second player from his country to prevail at Roland Garros after Roger Federer in 2009.
Unbeaten on clay this season, Djokovic threatened Wawrinka on his serve early on and he converted his third break chance when the Swiss served a double fault.
The Australian Open champion wasted two set points by playing too casually, and had a break point against him, which he saved with a service winner. He had a third set point that he converted when Wawrinka’s forehand sailed long.
As his first serve percentage slightly dropped, Djokovic faced multiple break points. Wawrinka could not convert four of them in the second set, whacking his racket twice on the net in frustration, but he made the most of his fifth chance — his sixth of the match — on set point to level the tie.
This sent Djokovic into a rage and the Serbian spiked his racket onto the ground, a move that earned him a warning from the chair umpire.
Wawrinka had the upper hand and he broke to love for 4-2 when he slapped a forehand winner after retrieving yet another lame drop shot from Djokovic — his eighth point in a row.
He clinched the third set when Djokovic returned long.
Unable to maintain the pressure, Wawrinka conceded a break in the second game of the fourth set and Djokovic moved 3-0 up.
But Wawrinka rallied and even had two break points for 4-3, which Djokovic saved with a volley and a backhand winner.
In a topsy-turvy encounter, it was fitting that in the following game it was Djokovic who had the break chances. Wawrinka went for his shots and saw off all three.
Djokovic looked like he had lost his game plan and Wawrinka broke for 5-4 with a flashing backhand winner down the line.
Although he saved the first match point, the Serbian had long lost another French Open final after his 2012 and 2014 defeats. –Reuters