Third seed Stan Wawrinka rose to the occasion once again to beat top-seeded defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-5 6-3 and win the U.S. Open on Sunday for the third grand slam title of his career.
The 31-year-old Swiss, who defeated Djokovic on his way to winning the 2014 Australian Open and 2015 French Open, denied the world number one a third grand slam title this year following the Serb’s wins in Australia and France.
Wawrinka, who does his best work with titles on the line, set up his championship point with an easy volley after sending a fatigued Djokovic deep into the backhand corner.
A Djokovic backhand that sailed long ended the nearly four-hour slugfest at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
It was another Flushing Meadows disappointment for Djokovic, who in seven trips to the U.S. Open final has twice won the title and finished runner-up five times.
Djokovic who won the first set tiebreak 7-1 by running off the last five points, saluted Wawrinka as a “big match” player. The Swiss has won three of their seven grand slam encounters.
It was a gruelling, groundstroke battle that featured captivating rallies and brilliant shot-making from the familiar foes.
Wawrinka trailed Djokovic 19-4 in their career meetings, but the hard-working Swiss saves his best for the big stage and he came through with a superlative performance that extended his remarkable streak to 11 straight wins in tournament finals.
As the match wore on, Wawrinka proved stronger and appeared to have Djokovic on the ropes early in the fourth set, the Serbian breathing heavily after some rallies and clutching at his leg in discomfort after being broken to trail 0-2.
Djokovic was granted a medical timeout after holding serve for 1-3.
Djokovic, who had injury questions entering the slam and benefitted from an easy ride that included a walkover and two retirements, took off both shoes and had some toes taped.
The six-minute interruption did little to stem the victory charge by Wawrinka, who built his winning edge by being better on the most important points.