Stan Wawrinka on Sunday became the oldest US Open men’s champion in 46 years when he defeated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to claim a third Grand Slam title.
Wawrinka, the 31-year-old third seed, triumphed 6-7 (1/7), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 after almost four hours of high-intensity tennis.
He even held his nerve when the final threatened to erupt into controversy after Djokovic twice called medical timeouts in the fourth set.
Wawrinka is the oldest winner of the men’s tournament since 35-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1970 and the first over 30 to take the title since Pete Sampras in 2002.
It was the Swiss player’s first New York title, following his breakthrough 2014 Australian Open triumph and last year’s Roland Garros crown.
On both those occasions, Djokovic had been the fall guy, losing in Melbourne in the quarter-finals and ending as runner-up in Paris.
“If you want to beat the No. 1 player in the world, you have to give everything,” said Wawrinka, who has won his past 11 finals.
Djokovic, the champion in 2011 and last year, had been seeking a third Grand Slam of the year and 13th major of his career.
However, the 29-year-old Serb finished runner-up in New York for the fourth time after paying a heavy price for converting just three of 17 break points.
Wawrinka, who had to save a match point to beat unheralded Dan Evans in the third round, committed 51 unforced errors, but crucially smashed 46 winners past his opponent.
“Stan, you absolutely deserved to win. You were the more courageous player in the decisive moment and you deserve this title,” Djokovic said. “You came out on top, you were the better player, tougher mentally.”
The final started against a somber, but defiant background with Broadway star Norm Lewis delivering a stirring rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, a poignant performance on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“There are many more important things than tennis matches,” Wawrinka said as he accepted the trophy. “I want to remember what happened 15 years ago.”
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