US Open Men Final Preview Novak Djokovic Versus Stan Wawrinka

US Open

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After one of Novak Djokovic’s easiest paths to a slam final, he will face one of his most difficult opponents, Stan Wawrinka, for the US Open trophy.

Novak Djokovic’s US Open 2016 draw looked anything but easy. A potential line-up of John Isner, Marin Cilic, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray had many doubting the injured top seed would defend his title.

Draws fall apart in tennis, however, and Djokovic’s not only fell apart, his eventual opponents collapsed, too. After a rusty four set opening round win versus Jerzy Janowicz, Djokovic was given a walkover by Jeri Vesely in round two, moved into the fourth round when Mikhail Youzhny retired after six games, defeated Kyle Edmund for the loss of seven games, played just two sets versus Jo-Wilfred Tsonga before the Frenchman retired in the last eight, and then defeated Gael Monfils in four sets.

In the final, another unexpected opponent awaits in third seed Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss had to reach his first US Open final the hard way, facing Fernando Verdasco in round one, saving a match point versus Dan Evans in round three, and then dropping sets to Ilya Marchenko Juan Martin del Porto and Kei Nishikori to set up a second slam final contest with the world No.1.

Their previous slam final, at Roland Garros 2015, brought out the best in the Swiss, as the big matches tend to. Djokovic acknowledged after his semi-final win that the Swiss was a big match player and if Wawrinka serves big, and can move Djokovic around and buy himself time to set up his powerful strokes, no one will be shocked to see him lift a third slam trophy and go 3-0 in finals.

As unpredictable as Wawrinka is, two things that are certain is he turns up for finals – he has won his last ten- and he will not be afraid to beat Djokovic in a slam. Djokovic may lead the head to head 19-4, but two of those losses have been big ones (Australian Open 2014, Roland Garros 2015), and on both of Wawrinka’s marches to a slam trophy. That head to head tells you everything you need to know about what unites the two rivals, a love for the big occasion, and what separates them, consistency.

This meeting comes at a time when Djokovic, the model of consistency in big matches since the Australian Open 2015, has never been, form wise, more enigmatic going into a slam final. The top seed has suffered shoulder and wrist injuries in recent weeks causing him to take a medical time out versus Monfils and hampering his serve.

A weak serve and a restricted backhand plus a motivated imposing Wawrinka may be too much for even Djokovic to overcome, but so far this US Open, as Djokovic himself has said, everything has fallen into place with his opponent’s injuries allowing him the time needed to recover from his own.

Wawrinka may not be so obliging as to offer Djokovic a helping hand, but if the Swiss gets off to a slow start, as he has done, allowing Djokovic to find his rhythm and confidence to take time away from him on big points, the Serbian may come through for a 13th slam title and third US Open.

Everything is up in the air in this year’s US Open final. Whether Djokovic has the strength to negate Wawrinka’s power and exploit his weaknesses or if Wawrinka can overpower Djokovic over five sets on a surface his muscle is less easy to flex on is anyone’s guess. This year’s US Open final is one of the most unpredictable in a while, and in a season that started so very predictably, the uncertainty that lies ahead will be met by tennis fans with very open arms.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.

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