Roger Federer vs. Stan Wawrinka: Score and Reaction from 2015 French OpenJune 2, 2015
Stan Wawrinka earned his first-ever win over Roger Federer at a Grand Slam event Tuesday, beating his countryman 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(4) in a gruelling quarter-final clash at the 2015 French Open.
It was Wawrinka who started quicker on the clay at Roland Garros. An early break of Federer's serve staked Wawrinka into a fast 2-1 lead in the opening set.
Powerful backhand shots from the world No. 8 consistently gave Federer problems. Wawrinka soon edged into a 3-2 advantage.
Wawrinka showed no fear against his illustrious opponent, and his bravado led to some exceptional shots, including this game-winner, as the official Roland Garros Twitter feed relayed:
Both players struggled adapting to a strong wind blowing across the court. Federer also appeared a little fatigued, as rain delays had forced an extra day's play in his Round 4 match against Frenchman Gael Monfils. At times against Wawrinka, the 33-year-old looked as though he didn't quite have the power in his legs to push off effectively when he approached the net.
Having played 24 hours earlier, Federer sometimes even struggled to keep his footing. One fall in the seventh game had many concerned, including Sports Illustrated's Courtney Nguyen:
For an idea of how tough the conditions were, USA Today's Nick McCarvel described an incident on the Philippe-Chatrier Court during Kei Nishikori's quarter-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:
Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times detailed some of the damage caused during the incident:
Rothenberg also relayed an official statement from Roland Garros relaying the extent of the damage caused among the crowd:
Back on the Suzanne-Lenglen Court, Wawrinka's early break always kept him in front. He eventually served to close out the first set with a 6-4 advantage.
Federer struggled with the conditions and committed numerous errors in his serve and volley game. By contrast, Wawrinka made his shots count:
With the wind warming up, the surface became a little slippery underfoot, but that didn't stop Federer from reasserting the power in his serve to open the second set.
That power prevented Wawrinka from repelling the serve with the same success he'd enjoyed early on. Federer blasted his way to a first-game win.
But just as Federer tried to bludgeon his way back into the match, Wawrinka became the bully again when he resumed serve. He evened the score after dropping just a single point in the second game.
A clearly rattled Federer soon needed treatment between games, per the ESPN Tennis Twitter feed:
If Federer was buckling at this point, he soon looked close to crumbling altogether. Just as he did in the opening set, Wawrinka scored a major advantage:
That break staked Wawrinka to a shocking two-set lead. Federer was certainly reeling as he struggled to deal with Wawrinka's backhand.
Wawrinka was essentially muscling Federer off the court, per the Sports Illustrated Tennis Twitter account:
ESPN analyst and tennis coach Brad Gilbert felt the younger Swiss was dealing with the conditions better than his fancied opponent:
Federer continued to struggle every time he approached the net. He just wasn't quick enough covering ground and reacting to the pace of Wawrinka's backhand:
With his anticipation just a little off, Federer again tried to re-establish power in his first serve, but every time he gained an edge, Wawrinka soon pegged him back.
In fact, it was Federer who really struggled to handle the service game:
He couldn't muster the same forehand shots that defined Wawrinka's impressive return game. The groundstrokes continued to pay off big for the 30-year-old:
Federer continued to experience trouble with the wind. Needing to break to stay in the match, he floated a backhand hopelessly out. The missed point symbolised his issues throughout the day.
But the weather wasn't disturbing Wawrinka's serve. He continued to send aces whistling beyond Federer's reach at breathtaking speed.
Leading 6-5, Wawrinka had the chance to force his third decisive break in as many sets, amid an increasingly anxious and vocal, pro-Federer crowd.
But serving to stay in it, Federer forced a tiebreaker. A particularly tense first point went Wawrinka's way. Suddenly, though, a fatigued-looking Federer appeared to find new life. He took the next two points.
Yet a resolute Wawrinka refused to wilt under the pressure. He soon ripped yet another backhand up the line to go 3-2 in front.
Controversy followed when Federer let Wawrinka take a disputed point:
That ultimately proved the clinching moment. Wawrinka wrapped up the tiebreak to complete a stunning straight-sets demolition of arguably the greatest player in tennis history.
Wawrinka pinpointed how his win at the Australian Open has given him the confidence to beat the sport's top players, per Christopher Clarey of the New York Times:
It's a major disappointment for Federer, but the world No. 2 simply never grew comfortable against Wawrinka's power.
In particular, he failed to repel the serve. Federer's struggles in this area were historic, according to FiveThirtyEight's Carl Bialik:
A clearly thrilled and slightly shocked Wawrinka also expressed his surprise at how much success he enjoyed against a previously perennial nemesis:
For Federer, the chase for an elusive Grand Slam victory continues, with the star having failed to capture a major victory since Wimbledon in 2012. Federer will turn 34 in August, and it's a race against time for 17-time Grand Slam champion.
Still, he was magnanimous enough to praise Wawrinka's efforts in pressure situations:
With Federer out, the winner of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic's quarter-final will likely become the outright favourite. Wawrinka may have to play even better to overcome either player, assuming he can get past the winner of the Tsonga-Nishikori match in the semi-final.