Novak Djokovic vs. Stan Wawrinka: Score, Reaction from US Open 2016 Men's Final

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2016

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11:  Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland celebrates defeating Novak Djokovic of Serbia with a score of 6-7, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 during their Men's Singles Final Match on Day Fourteen of the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

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:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

In his past 8 Grand Slam finals, Novak Djokovic is 0-2 against Stan Wawrinka and 6-0 against anybody else https://t.co/il0uGrgmZz

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:

Christopher Clarey @christophclarey

Two set points saved by Wawrinka and a backhand winner down the line: a shot he will need to hit many more times to beat an in-form Djokovic

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:

David Garrido @SkySportsDavid

1st set to #Djokovic 7-6 v #Wawrinka in 58 minutes. But every time Stan's beaten Novak in a Slam, he's lost the 1st set. Hmmm... #USOpen

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:

US Open Tennis @usopen

.@stanwawrinka fights back to even up the match at one set apiece! #usopen @MBUSA https://t.co/tgERqxGY72

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:

Jon Wertheim @jon_wertheim

The plaid shorts notwithstanding, unmistakable echoes of Paris. Stan hitting through ND defense, serving better, hanging in long rallies...

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:

Courtney Nguyen @FortyDeuceTwits

The glares Stan is shooting? Same look I get when anyone says “We don’t have Coke, is Pepsi ok?"

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:

Lindsay Gibbs @linzsports

For someone who couldn't stand 5 minutes ago, Djokovic has made a miraculous recovery.

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:

Christopher Clarey @christophclarey

Wawrinka up 5-2, one game from his 1st US Open title. Would take a night-long medical timeout to change the momentum, right?

The U.S. Open provided a replay of Wawrinka sealing the victory on match point:

US Open Tennis @usopen

.@stanwawrinka is your 2016 #usopen champion! He defeats #Djokovic to claim his third Grand Slam title! @MBUSA https://t.co/SxOn79PtJ8

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:

Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg

Stan Wawrinka career Slams, Masters, WTFs: 🐨—🏆 🌴—… 🐬—… 🎲—🏆 🐂—… 🍝—… 🐌—🏆 🍓—… 🍁—… 🎢—… 🗽—🏆 🍜—… 🎪—… ☔️—… At his best when it counts. #USOpen

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.


Post-Match Reaction

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.


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