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French Open 2015 Day 15: Wawrinka the new 'King of Clay'

Stanislas Wawrinka at Australian Open 2014
by Alex Sharp
Sunday 7 June 2015

Wimbledon.com's highlights from the fifteenth and final day of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros with the men's title up for grabs between Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka.

Stan the man again

There was never a more apt way to win a Grand Slam. Stan Wawrinka tormented Novak Djokovic in a pulsating French Open final and secured the title with a trademark backhand down the line.

So much history was on the line. Djokovic was pursuing a career Grand Slam but in his eleventh appearance at Roland Garros, Wawrinka finally landed the French Open in the same amount of attempts as Andre Agassi and Roger Federer. Pretty esteemed company for the 30-year-old on route to winning his second Grand Slam title.

In doing so Wawrinka becomes the first French Open junior champion (2003) to then go onto win the men’s title since Mats Wilander achieved that triumph in 1988.

The nerves were palpable at the start in the breezy conditions on Philippe Chatrier as a stone faced Djokovic set about nullifying the heavy artillery Wawrinka was firing his way.

Wawrinka clung onto his serve until the seventh game when the Swiss made a succession of backhand errors coupled with a double fault to donate the break for 4-3.

The world No.1 had a spring in his step and was skipping around the court to heap the pressure on Wawrinka by looping the ball up, out of his strike zone. A firecracker of a forehand winner from the 30-year-old however did forced Djokovic to serve out the set.

An incorrect line-call gifted the Serb 30-0 and despite being hauled back to deuce when Wawrinka unleashed more thunderous strokes, Djokovic held on to lead 6-4.

A rate of 95.6 per cent win ratio after taking the first set, a Tour history best, Djokovic looked to be on course for a maiden Roland Garros title.

Wawrinka had other ideas and was chipping away at his opponent’s serve. He had five break points in Djokovic’s opening three service games of the second set but each time his opponent had a repost.

Wawrinka was certainly growing in confidence and the clattering groundstrokes were diminishing Djokovic’s rhythm.

Scintillating winners off each wing ramped the pressure on Djokovic’s serve to go 30-0 at 4-5 and an errant backhand gave Wawrinka a sixth set point which he took to the delirious crowd’s delight.

Into the third and it appeared Djokovic, who appeared weary after his two day marathon against Andy Murray, was clinging on with a subdued court presence.

At 3-2 Wawrinka reeled off another lethal set of winners and tucked away a weak drop shot to break and surge ahead.

Having saved break point in the next game, Wawrinka was now with the momentum whereas Djokovic was shell-shocked, he wasn’t winning the punishing rallies anymore.

A moment of pure magic sent the set Wawrinka’s way, having curved a backhand winner around the net post at 5-2 to hold his nerve and complete a 6-3 set.

The duo’s previous four Grand Slam matches had been titanic contests and gone the distance to five sets and that appeared to the case once again in Paris with the Serb racing 3-1 up on a break in set four.

The enthralled crowd were astonished when Wawrinka set up a break back with a magnificent 30-shot rally as he crunched another winner past a baffled Djokovic.

A hold a piece and Wawrinka looked to be on the ropes again, falling 0-40 down on serve within seconds following some wild errors but his composed response was sublime.

A pair of cracking forehands and a gigantic serve reduced his arrears before an essential hold was achieved.

An exquisite combination of delicate touches at the net and whistling winners brought up a break point. Djokovic surprised with a serve and volley but another sumptuous backhand down the line had Philippe Chatrier rocking as he prepared to serve for the title.   

A tense game ensued but with miraculous composure Wawrinka still played with variety and power to move to match point. The Serb hung in there for one more point but couldn’t stop the irrepressible Swiss from clattering one more backhand down the line to be crowned champion.

Wawrinka, who goes up to world No.4 in the rankings on Monday, launched his racket into the air and lapped up the applause from the Parisan crowd.

“It’s still very fresh, I’m struggling to believe it. He is exceptional, playing against Novak in the final is one of the biggest challenges. Hopefully he will win the title here one day because he is a great champion,” said an emotional Wawrinka.

“I want to thank my team, a second Grand Slam title is something exceptional. I also think about Magnus (Norman), who lost a final as a player and twice as a coach. This time you won it."

After the gruelling final, Djokovic was gracious in defeat, "Hello everybody. My French is not so good, but I want to congratulate Stan, his team and his family. It's not easy for me to speak right now, but there are more important things in life - personality and respect. I have a big respect for Stan, you are a great champion with a big heart, you deserve that title.”

A standing ovation from the crowd prompted tears from the world No.1:”I can tell you (the fans) that I will keep trying to win this trophy, I will be back next year. Thank you.” 

Stat of the day

Wawrinka before Sunday had a 1-17 record against World No.1 players. The previous win came against Rafael Nadal to capture his first Grand Slam in Melbourne in 2014.

Tweet of the day


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