September 7, 2013
Farewell to Stan The Man. What a tournament he had. They’ll have to call him “Wawrinka The Shrinker” from now on.
Why? He takes great players and makes them feel very small indeed.
Fortunately for Novak Djokovic, Stan couldn’t keep it up. And the Serb, famous for his elasticity, found a way to grow again.
That takes nothing away from the magic of the occasion, Remember when Stan won that first set 6-2 and had Djokovic screaming in despair? Wawrinka looked as good as any player alive. His crisp, punchy, stroke-play came from the tennis gods – and we all looked on open-mouthed, transfixed in true astonishment.
Roger Federer, best player in the world? In those sublime moments, he wasn’t even the best player in Switzerland any more.
But here’s the breaking news…Stan The Man is human after all. Hang in there, ask enough questions, and he’ll start making mistakes eventually. He’ll even smash up his own racquet, just as Andy Murray did last time out.
There was one incredible 22-stroke rally in the second set which Novak won with a Sliding-Splits-Cross-Court-Ribbon-Rider. You won’t find that one in the manual.
Because of the high level of tennis coming from the other side of that net, Djokovic still didn’t win that second-set game. But it was the moment he knew he was going to be good enough to win the match.
And so it proved, though it took four hours or more. You don’t want to prepare for a final by winning 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
You don’t want to lose a game in the fifth set that lasted more than twenty minutes – even though the huge Ashe crowd and the whole world loved it.
In the end, Wawrinka The Shrinker Got Shrunk. But Stan The Man has left his mark. Novak will probably be too tired to beat Rafa Nadal in the final now, assuming the Spaniard breezes past Richard Gasquet as expected.
The final will still be a wonderful occasion, of course. Who wouldn’t enjoy the world’s two greatest players, mano a mano, with a massive, raucous crowd cheering every moment of scintillating action.
If it is half as good as Djokovic v Wawrinka, we’re in for a treat.
Looking forward to seeing these guys do their thing at Wimbledon next summer?
I’m counting down the days already!