TENNIS Stan Wawrinka fought back from a set down to beat Novak Djokovic in four sets with 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 after 3 hours and 12 minutes clinching the second major title of his career in the Roland Garros final held on a sunny day in Paris. For Djokovic the French Open remains the only Grand Slam title missing from his trophy cabinet. Wawrinka was presented with the Coupe des Mousquetaires by three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten who incidentally beat Wawrinka’s coach, Magnus Norman in 2000. Diego Sampaolo
Wawrinka had to save an early break point to hold serve after a 39-shot rally in the first game of the match. He had to save another in order to remain on serve. However, the pressure of holding serve got to him as he was broken at love in the 7th game after double faulting. Soon Djokovic was serving for the opening set up 5-4. Wawrinka saved two set points but Djokovic was able to close it out 6-4. The Serbian released a roar as he converted on set point.
Djokovic looked to be about to run away with the match as he earned a break in the opening Wawrinka service game in the 2nd set. However, the Swiss No. 2 fended it off and later began routinely earning break points on the Djokovic serve. Djokovic found himself continually under pressure to hold serve but he accepted the challenge as he held time each time. Serving to stay in the set down 4-5, Djokovic again looked poised to hold serve as he was up 30-0. “Stan the Man” sensing that the crucial stage of this match, lifted his game to win four consecutive points and earned himself a 6th break point. A backhand error from Djokovic leveled the match as Wawrinka took the 2nd set 6-4.
Wawrinka held his serve at the start of the third set but Djokovic again have to save break points in his service game. The pressure proved to be too much as Wawrinka broke serve to love in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead en route to clinching the third set with 6-3. Wawrinka hit 15 winners and won 19 of 21 first serve points in that set. Now it was the Swiss who seemed poised to take his 1st French title and not the overwhelming favourite, Djokovic.
Djokovic sensing that another French Open final failure is near, quickly took control of the 3rd set when he raced out to a 3-0 lead. However, Wawrinka was not about to be denied this chance as he broke back winning 12 of his next 15 points to level the set at 3-3. Djokovic held serve for 4-3 and earned himself triple break points to go up 5-3 and serve for the 4th set. Wawrinka again raised his level and held serve for 4-4. He then broke Djokovic on his 15th break point of the match with another brilliant backhand winner. Serving for the match up 5-4, Wawrinka employed another brilliant backhand to take the match saving break point for his 1st French Open title 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4.
Wawrinka hit 60 winners including nine aces and converted on four of his 15 break point chances. Thanks to his second Grand Slam title Wawrinka will return to World Number 4 in the ATP Ranking. Wawrinka has crowned a magical tournament in which he beat fellow countryman Roger Federer (2) in the quarterfinal and local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (14) in the semifinal. In collecting this title, the Swiss player also made a bit of history as he also won the junior title in Paris back in 2003. He has become the first past junior winner to win the men’s title since Mats Wilander in 1988 and the sixth player to win at both junior and senior level. He is the third oldest first time Roland Garros champion in the Open Era.
“I had a good talk with my coach Magnus Norman before the final. I was feeling realaxed until maybe 15 minutes before to go on the court. Then I started to be really nervous. I am still surprised with the way I played because I think I played amazing today. I was really nervous but I didn’t really choke. I was always going for my shots, always going for my shots. Pierre Paganini plays a key role in my career. He is instrumental in the good results all along my career. It’s always strange when I tell myself that I have a Olympic gold medal, the Davis Cup and two Grand Slams”, said Wawrinka
Djokovic said after his defeat that this defeat and the appreciation from the crowd will give him extra motivation to bounce back next year “You go through emotions I was more nervous than any other match. We both were aware of the importance of the matchand that’s why you tend to have these particular stuations. I am proud of the fight that I put into this match. I tried my best. It wasn’t to be. This is sport. That’s what happens on this level. You have to accept the loss. I respect the respect the crowd showed me. It was more or less the same situation like last year in the closing ceremony. This gies me more motivation to come back and keep on trying”, said Djokovic
Fabio Fognini beats Guido Pella in straight sets to reach the fourth round in Melbourne
Fabio Fognini beat Guido Pella 7-6 (7-0) 6-2 6-3 to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The Italian star converted five of his six break points to close out the match after 2 hours and nine minutes.
Fognini saved two break points in the first set with a forehand and a backhand and held his serve. The Italian star did not convert a break point in a long seventh game. Both players went on serve to set up a tie-break. Fognini did not drop a single point to cruise through to a 7-0 win.
In the second set Fognini earned a crucial break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. He held his serve on the second deuce after saving a break point. The 2019 Monte-Carlo champion sealed the second set with another break with a forehand return winner.
Fognini earned a break lead in the fourth game of the decisive set. Pella broke straight back in the fifth game. Both traded breaks again in the sixth and seventh games. Fognini broke for the third time and converted his second match point with a serve up the T.
He is also the 12th player to come back from two sets down at all four Grand Slam tournaments.
With his five-set victories over Reilly Opelka and Jordan Thompson in the first two matches Fognini made history on Wednesday when the “Come-back king” became the first player to win back-to-back Australian Open matches in final set tie-breaks.
“I am so happy to be in the fourth round again in Australia. Now it’s time to recover. I played a really solid game against a really tough opponent. I am happy with the performance”, said Fognini.
Fognini set up a fourth round match against 2018 Australian Open quarter finalist Tennys Sandgren, who beat Sam Querrey 6-4 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 52 minutes. Sandgren fended off nine break points and converted just 2 of his 14 break point chances. Two years ago Sandgen beat Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem en route to reaching his first quarter final at a Grand Slam event.
Marin Cilic prevails over Roberto Bautista Agut in five-set thriller in Melbourne
Marin Cilic overcame Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-0 5-7 6-3 after 4 hours and 10 minutes to score his first top 10 win since the 2018 US Open, when he beat David Goffin.
Cilic fought back from losing the first set at the tie-break, but he bounced back in the second set by breaking serve in the ninth game, when Bautista Agut made a forehand error. Cilic held on his serve to win the second set 6-4 to draw level to 1-1.
Cilic cruised through to a bagel win in the third set. The Croatian player got an early break in the fourth set to open up a 3-1 lead. Bautista Agut broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Cilic did not convert a break point chance at 5-5. Bautista Agut earned the break at 6-5 to force the match to the fifth set.
Cilic broke serve in the opening game of the fifth set with a forehand winner, but he did not convert a break point at 4-2. He broke for the seventh time in the match in Bautista Agut’s next service game to clinch a thrilling win, as Bautista Agut fired a backhand into the net.
Cilic took a re-match against the Spanish player, who won their previous head-to-head clash at the 2019 Australian Open in five sets.
“I had an incredible patch. It was a surreal level. Every ball I was hitting was going in. It was coming off my raquet incredibly well. I knew Roberto would always fight and he pushed me all the way in the fourth set”, said Cilic.
Karen Khachanov edges Mikael Ymer in marathon match in Melbourne
Karen Khachanov battled past Mikael Ymer 6-2 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 (10-8) in a marathon match after 4 hours and 14 minutes.
Ymer broke serve twice in the second and fourth games of the fourth set to open up a 4-1 lead. Khachanov broke back in the seventh game, but Ymer broke for the third time to take the fourth set 6-3.
Khachanov broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2, but he was broken back in the next game.
Khachanov was not able to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fifth set before trailing 6-8 in the decisive match tie-break. Khachanov came back by winning four consecutive points to clinch a thrilling win.
Australia’s Alexei Popyrin beat Spain’s Jaume Munar 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 after 2 hours and 4 minutes setting up a third round match against Danil Medvedev. Popyrin broke twice in each of the first and third sets and saved all four break point chances.
Taylor Fritz came back from two sets down to beat Kevin Anderson 4-6 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-2. Anderson was leading by two sets and 4-2 in the third set, but Fritz broke back before winning the third set at the tie-break. Fritz cruised through the fourth and fifth sets. Fritz will face Dominic Thiem in the third round.
“That was huge for me. He played a really tough five setter just the other day and then obviously coming back. Going back to back five setters is going to be tougher for him than usual. I felt fresh, so I just told myself that I have to keep running”,said Fritz.
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