Stan Wawrinka is a seasoned campaigner. But the ‘Stanimal’ revealed that even he felt the nerves before the US Open final against Novak Djokovic in 2016.
“I was 31 years old, I thought it might be my last opportunity for a Grand Slam,” the Swiss star said in a recent interview with L’Illustre.
“We went to eat with my team, I isolated myself at the end of the table with my headphones, I did not want to be spoken to. After the meal, I joined the locker room. I went to the physio, I warmed up.
“And then, five minutes before entering the central office, I suddenly felt super bad, extremely nervous, I started to cry. Magnus (Norman) came to speak to me and I pulled myself together.
“In the first set, Novak led 4-1, breakpoint for him, it seems to me. I end up winning the game and there, I decided to tire myself physically to relieve my stress. I extend the duration of the exchanges, even if it means losing them.”
Wawrinka toppled the top seed and defending champion, Djokovic, 6–7(1), 6–4, 7–5, 6–3.
As of now, it was the last of his three Grand Slam titles.
The 35-year-old has these famous words of Samuel Beckett tattooed on his arms: ‘Ever tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail Better.”
And for a long time it looked like the talented player would remain under the shadows of the Big 3 – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.
But Wawrinka made a major breakthrough in 2014, at the age of 28, defeating Nadal in the final of the 2014 Australian Open. He then overcame Djokovic at the 2015 French Open final to win his second.
“I owe a lot of my Grand Slam titles to the Big 3,” added Wawrinka, a former world no 3.
“I’m certainly the player who trained the most with them. I watched them, I watched a lot of their games. At the start of my career, I was able to count on Roger’s advice before I faced the best. He was like a big brother on the circuit.”
Despite having the same number of majors as Andy Murray, who briefly extended the tennis elite circle to Big 4, Wawrinka is not considered in the same league.
And his coach Magnus Norman said that Wawrinka was ‘little bit underestimated.’