Stan Wawrinka, an uninvited guest at the Big Four gala, crashed the party, again. But this time, Wawrinka, aka "Stanimal," may have broken the crew up for good.
Of course, the reign of the Big Four is indisputable. Between July 2003 and September 2013, one of the Big Four won 38 of the 42 Grand Slam titles. For eight years, between May 2005 and September 2013, Juan Martin Del Potro (2009 U.S. Open) was the only man outside of the Big Four to win a Grand Slam.
However, two of the last three Grand Slams have been won by someone other than a member of the Big Four. Wawrinka won two of the last six. That's as many as Djokovic and more than Nadal, Murray or Federer.
If the party ain't over, it's certainly looking like last call.
When the French Open draw came out, the biggest buzz centered around Nadal, Murray and Djokovic in the same bracket. Then everyone spoke of Federer, the sought-after socialite, on the other side with an "easier" path to the finals.
Nobody was talking about "Stan the Man." Why should they? Wawrinka had never advanced beyond the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. Last year, he lost in the first round.
So when the party started, folks forgot about Wawrinka. The spotlight shined on Federer, Murray, Djokovic and Nadal. The most anticipated event was a showdown between Djokovic and Nadal in the quarterfinals. The "King of Clay" was vying for his 10th French Open title and Djokovic, the world No. 1, was trying to win his first.
Djokovic did it! He finally knocked off Nadal at the French Open. Celebrate good times, come on!
Meanwhile, Wawrinka was taking out his own nemesis, friend and compatriot, Federer. In one round, the two biggest of the Big Four were gone.
After Djokovic defeated Nadal, attention turned to Murray, whose membership in the Big Four has always been questionable.
Murray had only lost a single match during the clay-court season, while Djokovic hadn't lost any. It was a Big Four battle royal that carried over into a second day. Murray shocked Djokovic, by sending it to a fifth set.
Djokovic did it again! He vanquished his toughest challenge. Or so he thought.
Wawrinka had already spoiled the party for French fans. He took out Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France's last hope, in the semifinals. At the time, it seemed that for Djokovic, the only potentially more formidable opponent than Nadal in the finals would be a Frenchman.
No worries, Wawrinka handled Tsonga with ease.
The stage seemed set for Djokovic to finally get his career Slam. Djokovic had exorcised his demons by beating Nadal. He held off a resurgent Murray. It was now Sunday, party time. A few hours and the celebration would be on.
But then, in walks Stan, wearing his Yonex pajama pants, with a different kind of party in mind. Off goes the American-popish hip-hop. Wawrinka began warring to a fierce beat a la Drowning Pool's "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor."
He's smacking forehands into corners, whacking one-handed backhands down the line. Dude is tearing up Philippe Chatrier. The neighbors at Suzanne-Lenglen start complaining, asking, "What the heck is going on over there?"
Djokovic, an honored guest at the party, looks confused, too. He had to be thinking, "This cannot be happening."
After Wawrinka took the second set, all the people in the house at Philippe Chatrier had to figure that surely Djokovic would make a comeback. After all, it's his party. Up 3-0 in the fourth, it appeared Djokovic just might. But then, like the backup keg delivered late, in comes new balls. Yep, fresh tennis balls with extra pop for Wawrinka to party on.
According to the Telegraph's Vicki Hodges, who blogged live during the event, a moment in the match came "in the fourth set at four-all when Wawrinka saved three break points to hold proved telling and the Swiss broke in the next to ensure he would serve for the title."
After winning match point, in hard-rocking form, Wawrinka tossed his racket into the air. Stan the Man, essentially, dropped the mic as if to say "I'm out."
"It was an incredible atmosphere on court and I felt emotion like I never have before," Wawrinka said, via Piers Newbery of BBC Sport.
Wawrinka, aware that his triumph stifled Djokovic's dream, spoke kind words about the world No. 1, which the Roland Garros staff tweeted. "He's such a tough player to play...and he's such a good friend. I hope he gets the title one day."
Now, Wawrinka has as many Grand Slam titles as Murray, as many French Open titles as Federer and one more than Djokovic. The reluctant superstar, Wawrinka has single-handedly called the Big Four concept into question.
Federer, Murray, Nadal and Djokovic made up this exclusive club that left other players, even a Slam winner like Wawrinka, on the outside looking in.
No more. Wawrinka smashed up the joint. It's Stanimal time. Even if he disappears for a month or two like he did after the 2014 Australian Open, the last time he crashed a party, Wawrinka brought down the house. The Big Four will never be the same.