Stan Wawrinka, on Monday, became the oldest player to win the US Open title since Australian Ken Rosewall in 1970. Wawrinka has had a 100 per cent record so far in Grand Slam finals, winning all three that he has been involved in thus far. His victory also more or less confirmed the end of the hegemony of the ‘Big Four’ of tennis i.e., Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, that has been a feature of men’s tennis in the 21st century.
At the age of 31, success and Grand Slam titles have been elusive for the Swiss. Wawrinka turned professional in 2002 at the age of 17. He would have have to wait for twelve years before he would clinch his first Grand Slam. His struggle to find success in the Grand Slams was somewhat in contrast to the outstanding career he had at the juniors level, in which he had won the French Open Junior Championships in 2003.
After turning professional, he won the Croatia Open Umag, his first ATP title, in 2006. His first major honours was the Olympic Gold he won in the 2009 Beijing games along with Roger Federer in the Men’s Doubles tennis event. Wawrinka also broke into the top 10 for the first time in 2008 when he reached the finals of the 2008 Masters Series in Rome. He lost the final to Novak Djokovic.
Wawrinka finally broke into the top five in 2014 when he won the Australian Open, his first Grand Slam title. He overcame then world number one Rafael Nadal in the finals. At the time, Wawrinka was the first player outside the Big Four of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal to win a Grand Slam title since 2005.
His next Grand Slam would come in 2015 when he overcame Novak Djokovic to win the French Open. It is interesting to note that all three of Wawrinka’s Slams, including Monday’s US Open title, have come despite the Swiss facing opponents ranked world number at the time.
Although opponents and experts have noted that Wawrinka is equally effective on clay and grass courts, he himself admitted to finding clay as his best surface. His ease with the clay was in full display during his match against Roger Federer, in which he defeated his fellow countryman in straight sets. Wawrinka is also credited with possessing one of the best one-handed back hand in the world.
Wawrinka’s career has perhaps been defined by his match-ups with Novak Djokovic. It was only after the Serb retired through fatigue that Wawrinka won his first ATP title in 2006. Djokovic leads the matchup 19-5 but these include many close ties including four Grand Slam five-setters.