Stan Wawrinka collected his third career Grand Slam title winning a first US Open Sunday beating Novak Djokovic 67, 64, 75, 63 in four hours.
Wawrinka finished the event beating former champion Juan Martin del Potro, 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori and then the No. 1 Djokovic, all in four sets.
Under Magnus Norman, Wawrinka has won three Grand Slam titles beating three World No. 1s, and he’s won his last 11 finals. Wawrinka also becomes the first player to win a Slam after being down match point, which he was to Dan Evans in the third round.
And Wawrinka stands now just a Wimbledon title from a career Grand Slam.
He met the press after the victory which made him the oldest US Open winner since 35-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1970.
Q. You look like a happy man.
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, hopefully I’m happy after a win like that. Thank you.
Q. Congratulations. What does this victory mean, especially against an opponent like Novak who you attributed your success to?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, this is amazing, for sure, amazing two weeks. I spend so much time on the court. Today I knew it will be a really tough battle again playing the No. 1 player, Novak Djokovic, who always push you to play your best tennis if you want to beat him.
That’s why I start to do, and I try to do. Was not only in the tennis side but physically and mentally was really tough, again. Honestly after the match I was completely empty. I put everything on the court. Not only today, but the past two weeks.
Today I was trying to stay with him. I was trying to be tough with myself. Trying not to show anything. Not to show any pain. Not to show any cramp. Not to show anything. I was suffering on the court, but I’m happy and proud with what I have achieved today.
Q. He called you the more courageous player. How much did courage come into play?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, for sure. But there is no secret. If you want to beat the No. 1 player in the world, you have to give everything.
As I said the other day, you have to accept to suffer and you have almost to enjoy to suffer. Because I think this Grand Slam was the most painful, physically and mentally, Grand Slam that I ever played.
As I said, I was feeling tired already at the beginning of the match. I was feeling the cramp coming in the third set. In the fourth set I had some pain, but most important was what was clear with Magnus before was not to show anything. Not to show anything. Give everything and keep fighting and go try to win it.
Q. Every player has dreamed of winning a Grand Slam, but I think your dream is going a little bit further down. Maybe a career Grand Slam. Is it a coincidence in the last two years to collect these three Grand Slams or there is any, can I say a systemic plan with Magnus, focus on Grand Slam?
STAN WAWRINKA: So what? Are you saying next year I focus only on Wimbledon? (Smiling.) There is no plan. The only plan is trying to push myself the maximum to be the best player I can. I’m not good enough to start and say, Okay, I’m going to win a Grand Slam this year. No.
I’m trying every day, day by day, practicing hard, trying every match to win. And, again, I think the result will come because I’m doing that every day, because I’m fighting with myself to improve, to be a better tennis player, because I have a great team behind me pushing me every day to try to be a better tennis player.
I think this year I’m playing way better than last year. As you said, at the beginning, for me, I never dreamed to win a Grand Slam until I won the Australian Open. It was never a dream because for me it was way too far.
And, again here, I arrive here without putting goal to win it. Arrive here, take match after match. Every time I step on the court I know I can beat my opponent. Even today.
But when I start the tournament, I’m not seeing the draw and say, Okay, my goal is to win the tournament.
Q. You have had so much success now against No. 1 players in these finals at Grand Slams. What is it you’re able to do here and why hasn’t it so far translated — obviously these are the biggest matches, biggest wins. What is it that needs to happen to transcend to other matches?
STAN WAWRINKA: Well, I think I take confidence every time I win a match. In Grand Slam you play every two days five-set match. You have a little bit more time to make mistake. That’s what happen with me. I always try to be at my top in every Grand Slam.
As you can see, I don’t play my best tennis in the first round, but I’m trying to find a way to improve each match. Every match I won in a Grand Slam I take confidence of that, and when I arrive in the final I know that my game is there.
Today, before the final, I was really nervous like never before. I was shaking in the locker. When we start five minutes before the match talking, last few things with Magnus, I start to cry. I was completely shaking.
But the only thing I was convinced with myself that my game was there. Physically I was there. My game was there. Put the fight on the court and you will have a chance to win.
And that’s what happen after few games when I start to believe in myself, start to be in the match. I was only focus on the match, not what can happen if I win the match. Is it the final of the U.S.? No, I’m just focused what I’m doing in the court.
Q. You described the physical pain you endured and how you did not want to show it. What was going through your mind when your opponent called for an injury timeout in the fourth set?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, I saw he was struggling. I saw he was struggling physically. I knew also before the match that when I play against him I have to push the limit. When he took the timeout for injury I was just trying to stay calm, trying to stay warm. I didn’t want to get cold because I was also struggling a lot physically. I was cramping few times.
So I just wanted to make sure my body will be ready when we start again. Because sometimes we’re sweating. If you stop for five or seven minutes, then your body can react differently.
So I was really focused on my body.
Q. But what about the fairness of the timeout and the timing of the timeout? What were your thoughts about that?
STAN WAWRINKA: For me, I just ask the umpire because he asked the physio when he was serving and we played maybe seven more points and everything. I just wanted to know exactly what was the rule.
That’s it. If your opponent is struggling, if he has blood coming out, you have to stop. So when the umpire and the referee came to me saying, It’s like that. It’s just happening. We have to stop for him because there is blood coming out. We have to make sure he’s going to be okay.
For me I was fine. It was just have to focus on my body and make sure that I was going to be ready for the first point we play after that.
Q. Maybe you don’t remember eight years ago you were down two sets to love to somebody called Cipolla.
STAN WAWRINKA: I do remember. He never shake my hand. He’s Italian. He never shake my hand. I do remember on Court 11 or 14. Yeah, of course I remember. (Smiling.)
Q. Okay. I remember too. (Laughter.)
STAN WAWRINKA: Good.
Q. What were your goals at that time? What were you thinking that you could have become as a player? Were you thinking, Well, I’d be top 10, top 20 or whatever? That was one question. And the second one is very brief. Won three slams and only one Masters 1000. How?
STAN WAWRINKA: I don’t care. I’m happy. But I agree. I agree.
First question, my career was always the same. Always been step by step. First I wanted to be a professional tennis player. That’s mean living with your passion, with your sport. Then was to be top 100, then top 50. It’s always been like that.
That’s always how I deal with my goal. I never start anything I want to be No. 1. I want to win Grand Slam. For me, no. It’s always step by step. The only thing I want to do it’s to push the limit. That’s mean when I stop playing tennis I have no regrets. I cannot come back and say, Why you didn’t practice more? Why you didn’t did that or that?
No. I just want to push myself to the limit and see where I can go.
For the other question, there is no answer. I cannot tell you why do I have three Grand Slam and only one Masters 1000. I can only say I’m happy with that trophy tonight.
Q. Tomorrow in a few hours the people will wake up in Switzerland, home country, and they will be very proud and say, Stan is our man and very convinced about this. What I want to ask you, you’re very often struggling against players ranked 64 in this tournament. For example, Evans. Then when the tournament continues and you face the really tough opponent like Nishikori and of course today, Novak you getting better and better. So you have won out of the three Grand Slams two against Novak. What’s the secret that you can beat obviously the No. 1 player in the world easier than a player ranked No. so-and-so?
STAN WAWRINKA: Ah, as I say, before the tournament I tried to do everything to be ready. Before we started the tournament I was feeling good physically, mentally. My tennis was there. I was playing one of my best practice weeks so I was confident with myself.
But then when you start the tournament, you know you’re not gonna play your best tennis. You know you’re not gonna play your best game at the beginning. Also, you have to see that playing on Armstrong, on center, and now it’s completely different.
The day I play, the three match I play there was quite windy. I was struggling with my game. I was hesitating.
In general, the only pressure that I feel in a Grand Slam is the pressure I put on myself. When I play player like Evans, for example, I put too much pressure on myself. I don’t want to lose. I want to win. I want to keep advancing in the tournament.
So I’m not relaxed enough to play my best tennis, and that day was playing really well. I think you need to also understand that there is no easy match. Doesn’t matter the ranking. Evans was playing really well. He was making me play not my best game. I had to fight. I had to stay positive. I had to find solution. I did. I save match point.
For sure you get a little bit lucky when you save match point, but that’s tennis. The more I win in a Grand Slam, the better I feel. As I said yesterday, I practiced. I was feeling the ball. I could close my eyes. I was feeling the best tennis I ever played.
So I was sure that in the final I would be ready for that.
Q. You remember the last year Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the final of this tournament. How did you face him today? Any chance to chat Roger about how to, you know –
STAN WAWRINKA: To lose?
Q. — to face Novak today?
STAN WAWRINKA: (Smiling.) No, I didn’t have a chance to chat with Roger. I think Roger is one of my closest friends on the tour. It’s not the first time I play Novak. It’s not the first time that I play Novak in the big final or important match.
In the past we talked many times with Roger. He ask me advice. I ask him advice. But, no, I didn’t ask him anything. I think I know exactly what I have to do when I play Novak, especially in final of Grand Slam. I need to be ready. I need to be focused and go for it.
Q. In your career we have seen a lot of determination, a lot of perseverance, and we saw a lot of that tonight. You hung in there and came back after losing the first set. Talk about perseverance and determination. Is that an important part of your game and was it important tonight?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, it’s important in my career in general. For sure tonight was important, but if you look, I have to be always like that. That’s why I saved match point against Evans. I wasn’t playing my best tennis, but I keep trying, keep fighting. Do the right thing.
If I go on court and I do the right thing, the things that I think can help me to win and I lose, then I say congrats to my opponent. I push myself.
Tonight, for sure, when you play Novak he’s a beast mentally. He’s gonna stay there. He’s gonna push you. Normally he always find solution. He’s No. 1 player. He won so many title, so many trophy, and it’s always the biggest challenge to play against him.
Q. Congratulations, Stan. I want to ask you, after your match against Evans on Armstrong, underneath there was a great moment when you were walking off and applauded by the ball boys and girls. I want to ask you what that sort of love and affection you get from the people and the fans, how that impacts you?
STAN WAWRINKA: I love it. I love the fans, but especially also the person working the tournament every day. Every day you arrive you see them. I love the ball kids. They always there. It was great to see them being happy for me after the match on the Armstrong against Evans.
If I can sign or give picture or anything, I’m always happy. I think all the person, I see them every day. Every day I come here. Every day I’m leaving. They always take care of me, my team, of everybody.
So I really enjoy spend time with them.
Q. You had mentioned Roger just before. Have you heard from him at all across the tournament or even…
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, a few message, yeah. Congrats, good luck. Things like that. Yeah.
Q. Was it encouraging…
STAN WAWRINKA: What I just said. (Laughter.) Few message.
Q. You mentioned before that you wouldn’t focus on trying to win Wimbledon. What do you think your chances are of winning there eventually?
STAN WAWRINKA: It’s too far. Too far to think about Wimbledon. I think I can play my best tennis on grass also, but so far I didn’t pass the quarterfinals. There is way better tennis player than me on grass.
I’m trying. I’m trying every year to improve. I’m trying every year to find solution. This year I had someone in my team to help me to understand a little bit better the game, but I didn’t play my best tennis yet there. Hopefully it will come.
Q. You mentioned earlier being so nervous tonight that you shook and cried in the locker room. Is this the most nervous you have ever been before a match? If so, why more tonight than, say, the French or Australian?
STAN WAWRINKA: I think the most close to that was the French Open final. I was also — because I don’t want to lose the final in a Grand Slam. That simple. That’s the only reason.
The pressure, I was feeling amazing after the semifinal. I was feeling great yesterday. Really happy. But this morning it start to be there, the feeling of you don’t want to lose. I don’t want to come to the court and lose a final. So close, so far.
So maybe it’s the reason why I was feeling so nervous.
Q. What did you do to quell your nerves?
STAN WAWRINKA: I had to put my shit together. (Smiling.) Sorry. That’s how I say it.
Q. You have always declined to say that you felt you were one of the Big 4.
STAN WAWRINKA: But I’m not.
Q. In his press conference, Novak was asked about whether it should now be a big 5 and he said you deserve consideration. What is your feeling on that? Are you saying you’re not?
STAN WAWRINKA: Okay, let’s — Novak is always so nice with me. I love him. He’s a good friend. He always say a lot of nice thing about me.
The Big 4, I’m really far from them. Just look the tournament they won, how many years they been there. If you look, yes, I have three Grand Slams. How many Masters 1000 have Murray? They have been there since ten years.
They have not only been winning, but being in semifinal, final every time. That’s why I’m not there. I don’t want to be there. For me, there is no question about that. But I’m trying the best I can with my career.
I’m really, really happy with what I’m doing so far. I’m proud of myself by winning three Grand Slam. This is something I never expect and dream about it, but I have them and I’m happy to take the trophy back home.
Q. Is the No. 1 ranking a goal for you at all?
STAN WAWRINKA: No.
Q. What do you think you have to do to achieve it?
STAN WAWRINKA: That question come every time I won a Grand Slam. But my best ranking was No. 3 in the world. It’s simple. I’m way too far to even think about being No. 1. Look at Novak is No. 1. He’s winning two or three Grand Slam a year. He’s winning five Masters 1000 minimum. He’s winning everything or being in the final.
I’m winning four tournaments a year. I’m happy with that. I’m really happy with that. Four tournaments, one Grand Slam. It’s amazing. It’s huge. It’s big. But I’m way too far to be No. 1.
Q. You were saying that the only pressure what you put yourself. Do you think that pressure is gonna diminish or decrease? You like be expected to do better every time?
STAN WAWRINKA: I think my first Grand Slam final I was winning really well. I was not feeling nervous; I was feeling good. I was basically already happy with the final. I came on the court to win it, but I knew it will be okay to lose it, also.
But then… Then… Then I’m not that young anymore. Then you start. You’re in another final of a Grand Slam. You don’t want to lose it. You don’t want to lose the opportunity to win that trophy there, especially a Grand Slam.
So I think for sure the pressure in general during the year go down, but when I play final the pressure go up. Because the trophy of winner finalist is not the same.
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