Stan Wawrinka outlasted Novak Djokovic on Sunday night to clinch his third Grand Slam title, winning 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 in the men's singles final at the 2016 U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York.
The victory put Wawrinka only a Wimbledon title away from completing the career Grand Slam.
ESPN Stats & Info noted he has become a thorn in Djokovic's side at major tournaments:
While he breezed through the final set, things weren't looking good for Wawrinka after he fell behind 5-2 in the first set. Serving to stay alive, Wawrinka held and then reeled off the next two games to tie the set at 5-5. The New York Times' Christopher Clarey thought the Swiss star's backhand was working:
After Djokovic and Wawrinka exchanged the next two games, the former cruised in the tiebreak. While Wawrinka rebounded after his slow start, he committed 20 unforced errors in the opening frame, which is unsustainable against a player as talented as Djokovic.
Sky Sports' David Garrido noted losing the first set wasn't a death sentence for Wawrinka, though:
Wawrinka was better from the baseline in the second set, cutting down his unforced errors to eight. He and Djokovic also reversed roles, with Wawrinka going ahead and Djokovic needing to fight back.
Wawrinka earned a service break to go ahead 4-1 before Djokovic tied the set at 4-4. After Wawrinka held to go up 5-4, Djokovic sailed a forehand wide on set point, allowing Wawrinka to even the match.
The U.S. Open shared a replay of the point:
In the third set, the match began slipping away from Djokovic. Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim thought Wawrinka was excelling in many of the areas that led to his win over Djokovic at the 2015 French Open:
Little separated the two, but Wawrinka consistently stepped up in the set's biggest moments. He staved off five of Djokovic's six break-point opportunities and broke Djokovic on each of his break-point chances.
The longer the set went on, the more Djokovic looked to be less than 100 percent, which was surprising given the low amount of tennis he had played in New York.
Djokovic's second-round win came in a walkover, and two of his victories ended when his opponents retired early. He was seemingly the fresher player coming into the final. Instead, a foot injury began dogging him in the fourth set, and he eventually called for the trainer after falling behind 3-1.
Wawrinka looked perturbed by the medical timeout, which ran for six minutes. WTATennis.com's Courtney Nguyen knew the feeling:
Fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium were beginning to turn on Djokovic, and the timeout didn't help him curry any favor, with some fans questioning how legitimate the injury was.
As ThinkProgress' Lindsay Gibbs tweeted, the 12-time Grand Slam champion was suddenly rejuvenated after the timeout:
The turnaround didn't last, however, as Djokovic lost the game, and after Wawrinka held to go up 5-2, Djokovic asked for and received another medical timeout to have his toe examined. Clarey thought the result was inevitable no matter what Djokovic did to disrupt the flow of the match:
The U.S. Open provided a replay of Wawrinka sealing the victory on match point:
Sunday's match illustrated Wawrinka can beat anybody in the world when he's at his best. The question has always been whether he can consistently play at this level. The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg offered a visual representation to show his struggles outside of Grand Slam events:
The 31-year-old will likely continue to be a threat at each and every Grand Slam for the foreseeable future, but if Djokovic is going to have any competition for the No. 1 ranking, it'll likely come from Andy Murray, who is more competitive across the entire ATP World Tour schedule.
Meanwhile, Djokovic failed to win the title at back-to-back Grand Slams for the first time since the 2014 Australian and French Opens. While he remains the best player in the world, the gulf may be closing between him and the rest of the field.
After the match, Wawrinka talked about how he took each match at the U.S. Open as it came, per Clarey: "Honestly, this is amazing. I came here without expecting, without setting a goal to win it, but every time I stepped on the court, I was trying to win every match. I think I played quite a lot of tennis these two weeks. I’m completely empty; I had to bring everything I had today against Novak."
Despite the defeat, Djokovic was happy with the overall result.
"It was a fantastic couple of weeks for me," he said, per BBC Sport. "I didn't know if I was going to come a few weeks before because I struggled physically. If someone had told me I was going to play in the final I would definitely have accepted it."
Wawrinka also acknowledged the impact Djokovic has had on his career.
"We know each other for many, many years," he said, per USA Today's Nick McCarvel. "Because of you I am the player I am today."
Note: Match stats are courtesy of the U.S. Open's official website.