In tennis there has, for a number of years, been the “Big Four” – Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal but now there is an overwhelming case for that group to be increased by one and called the “Fab Five”. The obvious candidate is Stan Wawrinka.
Wawrinka has maintained his perfect record in the finals of the majors. The Swiss No.1 secured his third major, which the same number as Murray, when he defeated Djokovic in the US Open final 6-7, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 in three hours 55 minutes.
Wawrinka was reserved about the idea when it was put to him after the exhausting final.
“The Big 4, I’m really far from them,” he said. “Just look the tournament they won, how many years they been there. If you look, yes, I have three Grand Slams. How many Masters 1000 have Murray? They have been there since ten years.
“They have not only been winning, but being in semi-final, final every time. That’s why I’m not there. I don’t want to be there. For me, there is no question about that. But I’m trying the best I can with my career.
“I’m really, really happy with what I’m doing so far. I’m proud of myself by winning three Grand Slam. This is something I never expect and dream about it, but I have them and I’m happy to take the trophy back home.”
The vanquished also put the case forward that Wawrinka should be spoken of in the same context.
“He deserves to be in the mix, no doubt about it,” Djokovic said. “Stan won three Grand Slams now and three different ones; Olympic medal. Been around for so many years, and he plays best in the big matches. I mean, he definitely deserves to be mentioned in the mix of top players.”
Djokovic got off to a fast start in the final and led 5-2 but he had many opportunities to be a double break up. When he didn’t convert it gave Wawrinka a way back in.
“This is amazing, for sure, amazing two weeks,” Wawrinka added. “I spend so much time on the court. I knew it will be a really tough battle again playing the No. 1 player, Novak Djokovic, who always push you to play your best tennis if you want to beat him.
“Was not only in the tennis side but physically and mentally was really tough, again. Honestly after the match I was completely empty. I put everything on the court. Not only today, but the past two weeks. I was trying to stay with him. I was trying to be tough with myself. Trying not to show anything. Not to show any pain. Not to show any cramp. Not to show anything. I was suffering on the court, but I’m happy and proud with what I have achieved today.”
Opportunities went astray for Djokovic. The situation began to tighten up in the first set when he did not score a double break. Wawrinka was able to get back in and even though he lost the first set tiebreaker very easily, he was now in reach. By the end of the match Djokovic had converted just three of 17 breakpoints. You are not going to win a title of this magnitude with a stat like that.
“I just didn’t capitalize at all on my opportunities. I had plenty of them, break points. It was a terrible conversion of the break points. Just terrible from my side,” Djokovic said. “In the matches like this, if you don’t use the opportunities, the other guy comes and takes it. And that’s what he did. He was more courageous, because he stepped in and played aggressive where I was kind of more waiting for things to happen. And that’s it.
“Obviously Grand Slam finals are different than any other match. I have lost a few Grand Slam finals, some close matches. This has been one of the worst stat on the break point conversion for me, that’s for sure.”
The day before in winning the women’s singles Angie Kerber said she had dreamed of winning majors. Wawrinka was quite the opposite.
“I never dreamed to win a Grand Slam until I won the Australian Open,” Wawrinka said. “It was never a dream because for me it was way too far. And, again here, I arrive here without putting goal to win it. Arrive here, take match after match. Every time I step on the court I know I can beat my opponent. Even today. But when I start the tournament, I’m not seeing the draw and say, Okay, my goal is to win the tournament.”
Wawrinka became the oldest man to win the Open since Ken Rosewall in 1970, he is the first 30-something to win the title since Pete Sampras in 2002 and he is the first man since Djokovic in 2011 to win the title after facing a match point, which Stan did against Britain’s Dan Evans in the third round.
“For sure you get a little bit lucky when you save match point, but that’s tennis,” he said. “The more I win in a Grand Slam, the better I feel. I practiced. I was feeling the ball. I could close my eyes. I was feeling the best tennis I ever played. So I was sure that in the final I would be ready for that.”