NEW YORK: Throughout the year there are so many tennis matches played which remain memorable and then there are some which go into the stratosphere for excitement, quality and passion. Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka played one of those just as they did at the Australian Open earlier this year.
After four hours and nine minutes of spellbinding shots and thrilling scrambling the Shanghai Rolex Masters titleholder, Novak Djokovic, reached his fourth consecutive US Open final 2-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 finishing the match with his ninth ace.
“I just tried to hang on and fight and be mentally tough and believe all the way through I can actually win,” said Djokovic. “I sincerely believed that as the match progresses and longer it goes, I felt I have maybe that physical edge over him, and that I also, being in particularly these kind of matches and situations, playing on a big stage in semifinals, maybe that experience could, you know, give me a little bit more of confidence on the court mentally, also.
“Even though I was quite nervous at the start of the match and we played five sets I still felt that I was there, you know, and that I was fighting. Credit to him for playing really well. We had some great exchanges, you know, in swirly conditions. Definitely not easy to play because you had to always adjust to the where the wind goes and make a lot of footsteps.
“In the end of the day, I managed to stay tough and play well when I needed to. That's something that definitely encourages me before the final.”
In the final he will take on Rafael Nadal who ended the run of Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6, 6-2 in two hours 23 minutes.
Wawrinka said it was a strange feeling for him to take away positives again for a loss but it was his first semifinal in a Grand Slam, so a great tournament. He felt it was a completely different match to the one they had at the Australian Open.
“In the Australian Open I had to play my best game to stay with him, today I had the feeling when I was still fit, when I was still healthy I had the match in control,” he said. “I think I was playing better than him. I was doing much more things than him, but he's not No. 1 for nothing. He was staying with me all the match, and at the end he pushed me, pushed me far, far, far back. I had to find everything I had in my body today to stay with him, and he won the match. But, yeah, I think was still a good tournament.”
The Djokovic-Wawrinka match was highlighted by a 21 minute game on the Wawrinka serve in the third game of the final set and it was extraordinary. 29 points were played, there were 12 deuces, eight game points and five break points. Wawrinka held serve, but two games later when he was serving again, the third game effects seemed to take its toll and he lost serve by sending a backhand long.
It was the 22nd time at one of the majors that Djokovic has won a match after having lost the first set.
Wawrinka was like a steam train at the start. Djokovic looked like a dear in headlights as the Swiss kept drilling the ball for winners. He played forehands that were marvelled at and that isn’t even his best shot, his single handed backhand is. Djokovic got himself into the match with the second set but he had to come back from a break down to do so.
The world No.1 weaved his way to a tiebreak which he won with a forehand crosscourt passing shot but Wawrinka bounced right back. In the eighth game of the third Djokovic played a horror game to lose serve to love and Wawrinka served it out. But Djokovic rallied and went up 4-1 in the fourth and levelled the match with an ace.
Fantastic went to exceptional from there and it was a privilege to have been witness to that third game before Djokovic advanced in an atmosphere that was sheer magic.
“It was a great feeling. That's for sure. I enjoy a lot. That's why you play tennis. It's to play in front of people like today in the bigger stadium in tennis. And even if I lost today, I was still happy to hear all the cheering and to hear all the crowd like this. I think it's something quite amazing for me,” said Wawrinka.
Nadal explained that the conditions were difficult with a pretty strong wind making it tough to play but he played a solid first set which was important in such situations. In the second when it seemed like he had the match under control, everything changed. Gasquet lifted his level and broke back. Nadal said he played a great tiebreak and winning the second set took the wind out of the Frenchman’s sails.
“What makes me happy is for sure be in the final of a US Open,” said Nadal. “Makes me very happy. Is big result for me. Very happy for everything the way that I am playing. But what really makes me happy is be competitive in every tournament that I am playing, and that's why I am very happy today, because in this season I was able to play all finals and one first round.”