SAN DIEGO, September 7, 2013 – Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic gave it everything they had and then some in their exciting men’s semi-final match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament on Saturday. Tennis fans in the stands and watching at home couldn’t have asked for more.
Djokovic won on a service ace after four hours and nine minutes of play over the challenger Wawrinka, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The two warriors showed much respect to each other, and Djokovic’s salute to the crowd upon winning was one of relief rather than exhultation.
One thing is clear after today: tennis fans will know the name of more than just one top men’s singles tennis player from Switzerland.
The world “epic” is overused in sports, but it’s hard to use any other word for this match. Wawrinka started strong, running Djokovic from side to side with beautifully placed shots including the use of his much admired one-handed backhand. Wawrinka won the first set 6-2. Djokovic was becoming visibly frustrated with his play.
The second send went to a tie-breaker, and Djokovic won it relying on his defensive skills, seeming to turn the corner. But Wawrinka never let down and took the third set, 6-3. Could the number one seed be staring down a defeat before reaching the tournament finals?
Wawrinka asked for a trainer and took a medical timeout after the third set to tend to what appeared to be a thigh injury. Between whatever was bothering him and the tremendous effort it had taken to win two sets against Djokovic, Wawrinka seems to lose just the slightest edge. The third game of the fourth set Djokovic took the fourth set 6-3.
In the fifth set, the pair were tied at one game apiece when they played a 30-point, 21 minute third game. Wawrinka saved five break points before finally winning the game on a serve. The crowd broken into defeaning applause, with Djokovic egging them on and Wawrinka smiling and enjoying the moment.
After the match talking to Mary Jo Fernandez of CBS Sports, Djokovic asked, “How long was that game?” Upon hearing 21 mintues, he said “I guess everybody was thinking whoever won this game would win the match. It was a long tame, the crowd was fantastic.”
But it was not the case. Wawrinka was running out of gas, and lost the next two games, eventually yielding to Djokovic.
In his first Grand Slam final appearance ever, Wawrinka had 57 winners. He received an extended standing ovation from an appreciative crowd before telling CBS’s Fernandez “I gave everything, I fight until the end. The crowd, it was an amazing experience.”
Djokovic said, “These matches is what we live for, what we practice for.”
He added, “I think it was obvious that Stan played more aggressive. He played better tennis overall. I tried to hang in there, tried to adjust. I had to run a lot and find my rhythm on the swing. I wasn’t playing as well as I wanted. All credit to him for playing aggressive and playing so well.”
Djokovic has reached his fourth consecutive final. “Right now I’m going to try to recover and let you guys enjoy the other semi-final. I’ll grab some popcorn and watch it on TV,” he said.
In the second semi-final, it will be Rafael Nadal (2) of Spain versus Richard Gasquet (8) of France.
After the second men’s semi-final Saturday afternoon, CBS airs the women’s final between Serena Williams (1) and Victoria Azarenka (2) at 12 noon Eastern Time on Sunday. The men’s final takes place between Novak Djokovic (1) and either Rafael Nadal (2) or Richard Gasquet (8) on Monday at 12 noon Eastern Time on ESPN.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read Ringside Seat in Communities at Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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