For most of his match in the US Open Semi-Finals, Stan was definitely the man.
In fact, you can argue Stan Wawrinka had the unkindest pull of them all in the fourth set, which may have torpedoed his chances in his 2-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 loss to Novak Djokovic allowing his Serb opponent to appear in a fourth straight Open final.
“It’s a strange feeling, but for me I think I need to take the positive again of that loss, for sure. It’s my first semifinal in a Grand Slam, so I had a great tournament,” Wawrinka said. “Unfortunately today I was a little bit struggling physically. I think that is completely different match than the match we play in the Australian Open. In the Australian Open I had to play my best game to stay with him.
“Today I had the feeling when I was still fit, when I was still healthy I had the match in control. I think I was playing better than him. I was doing much more things than him.
“But he’s not No. 1 for nothing. He was staying with me the entire match, and at the end he pushed me, pushed me far, far, far back. I had to find everything I had in my body today to stay with him, and he won the match.”
Wawrinka slipped and hurt his upper leg when he was down 2-0 in the fourth, an injury he said was actually happened in the third set and really happened earlier in the week when Wawrinka played Marco Baghdaits.
Ultimately he had to take an injury time out to get some treatment, but at that point he was running out of gas, which allowed Djokovic to take control.
“At that moment I knew I was going to be out of fuel if I had to play a long match and struggle a little bit against him, especially against him because he’s such a good defender,” Wawrinka said. “ I had to change a little bit my game because I couldn’t be that aggressive. I couldn’t take my forehand as I want. And, yeah, was not easy.”
Much like his countryman Roger Federer, Wawrinka displayed a one-handed forehand and backhand today and seemed to be in control in the match.
If Federer is the Dark Night, then Wawrinka must be the Boy Wonder, and the 28 year-old gave the Djoker all he could muster.
Many of the games lasted a long time with long points and many deuces, including a 21 minute game in the fifth, which he won.
It was enough of an effort to win over the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.
“Wawrinka was a better player for most of the better part of the match because he was aggressive and played better tennis,” Djokovic said.
“Other hand, me, I just tried to hang on and fight and be mentally tough and believe all the way through I can actually win. And I sincerely believed that as the match progresses and longer it goes, I felt I have maybe that physical edge over him, and that I also, being in particularly these kind of matches and situations, playing on a big stage in semifinals, maybe that experience could, you know, give me a little bit more of confidence on the court mentally, also.
“Even though I was quite nervous at the start of the match ‑ and we played five sets ‑ I still felt that I was there, you know, and that I was fighting.”
But you have to credit Wawrinka for the effort. No one expected this from the Swiss national, but now he may be a force to be reckoned with.
“After the match, the only thing that surprise me, it’s the way I was playing and the way I was on the court better than him and doing much more things than him,” Wawrinka said. “As I say, when we play in Australian Open, I had to play my best level the entire match to stay with him. Today I had the feeling that when I was playing my best level I was better than him.
“But he’s not No. 1 for nothing. That’s why he won the match, because he always find a solution.
“The only thing that I’m sure, it’s again, my level is great and I need to focus on that.”
And with if he does Stan can certainly me the man at more Opens.