Stan Wawrinka once again exhibited his ability to deliver on the biggest stage winning his third slam in his third finals by beating Novak Djokovic 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 7-5 6-3 in the US Open men’s singles final.
Although Djokovic – champion at five of the last seven grand slams – started as an understandable favourite at Flushing Meadows, Wawrinka came into Sunday’s contest having won his 10 most recent finals and beaten the Serbian en route to his two previous major successes – at the 2014 Australian Open and 2015 French Open.
An error-strewn start from the third seed enabled Djokovic to seize the early initiative this time around, but he was ultimately left to rue a host of missed opportunities on break points.
Wawrinka soon found his rhythm, his groundstrokes breathtakingly brilliant at times, and appeared to have the edge both physically and mentally as he closed out victory in three hours and 54 minutes, with Djokovic – whose fitness has come under the microscope in recent months – seemingly hampered by blisters on his feet in what proved the final set.
Djokovic therefore remains tied-fourth with Roy Emerson in the list of slam-winners, with 12 titles to his name, while the new champion in New York joins Andy Murray as a three-time winner of tennis’ premier events – Wawrinka now requiring a Wimbledon crown for a career Grand Slam.
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) September 12, 2016
Wawrinka – forced to save a match point in his third-round win over Dan Evans – started abysmally at Arthur Ashe Stadium, making eight unforced errors in the first two games alone, but was able to fight back from 5-2 down to force a tie-break in the opener.
More mistakes proved costly for the third seed in the breaker, which was won comfortably by Djokovic despite Wawrinka coming out on top in one sensational rally that brought the crowd to its feet.
Yet another shift in momentum followed as the Swiss, his trademark backhand looking increasingly dangerous, moved 3-1 up in the second set and overcame a brief lapse to consolidate his lead.
Djokovic was soon back on level terms, albeit only briefly as a second Wawrinka break levelled the match and prompted a frustrated reaction from the top seed, who was duly given a warning for racket abuse.
The position of Djokovic appeared increasingly perilous as he gave up the next three games. However, he responded admirably, eventually accepting his sixth break point of a gruelling third set to leave the match evenly poised once more.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 11, 2016
Nevertheless, a sense of frustration appeared to linger for the reigning champion and Wawrinka kicked on again, a blistering forehand down the line enough to force an error that saw Djokovic fall two sets to one down.
Djokovic was unable to regain the initiative thereafter and twice received treatment on his feet during medical timeouts after falling behind in set four.
As his opponent toiled, Wawrinka was able to maintain his focus amid the interruptions and claim a slam crown for the third year in succession, proceedings brought to an end as Djokovic erred with a backhand on the second championship point.
Wawrinka  bt Djokovic  6-7 [1-7] 6-4 7-5 6-3
Wawrinka – 46/51
Djokovic – 30/46
Wawrinka – 9
Djokovic – 6
BREAK POINTS WON
Wawrinka – 6/10
Djokovic – 3/17
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Wawrinka – 56
Djokovic – 51
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Wawrinka – 71/51
Djokovic – 78/53
Wawrinka – 144
Djokovic – 143