Cool Swiss Stan Wawrinka has gained membership to one of the most exclusive clubs in tennis and denied Novak Djokovic his own place among the sport’s immortals with an epic French Open final triumph in Paris.
Wawrinka continued his dream run to upset Djokovic 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 in a pulsating title match at Roland Garros to collect his second grand slam crown inside 18 months.
For so long living in Roger Federer’s shadow, the Swiss No.2 has now joined his superstar countryman, as well as Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray as only the fifth man in the past decade to snare multiple majors.
And oh how the 30-year-old did it.
Believing it was finally his time after taking out nine-times champion Nadal in the quarter-finals, Djokovic had been striving to join Federer, Nadal, Andre Agassi, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Don Budge and Fred Perry as only the eighth player in history to complete an elusive career grand slam.
But for third time in four years, the Serb departs the co-called City of Love shattered.
After being denied by Nadal in the 2012 and 2014 finals, as well as in three semis and a quarter-final over the years, Wawrinka crushed Djokovic’s hopes with an awesome display of power and precision on Sunday.
The eighth seed used the same deadly one-handed backhand, surgical serve and steely resolve that devastated Djokovic and Nadal at last year’s Australian Open to once again destroy the Serb’s grand slam dreams at Roland Garros.
The free-hitting Swiss crunched 60 winners to Djokovic’s 30 and, fittingly, nailed his signature backhand down the line on his second match point to reign supreme after three hours and 12 minutes.
In addition to his Australian and French Open triumphs, Wawrinka also teamed with Federer last November to Switzerland its historic first Davis Cup trophy.
Sunday’s victory was also the ultimate pay back after he’d blasted organisers on the opening day of the championships for airing an invasive story about his personal life on the tournament’s official website.
The first final involving neither Nadal or Federer in 11 years certainly didn’t lack magic or drama, with the opening game offering a glimpse of what was to come with a lung-busting 39-shot rally.
The claycourt gladiators continued to pound each other from the baseline, looking for chinks in their opponent’s armour before Wawrinka cracked first.
He choked on a backhand and then double-faulted to drop serve to love to hand Djokovic a 4-3 advantage.
The eighth seed saved one set point with a beautiful forehand pass and then another with a sizzling on-the-run backhand that the net-rushing top seed was unable to handle.
A Djokovic backhand error gave Wawrinka a break-back point but the Serb served himself out of trouble to clinch the set after 53 minutes.
Wawrinka took his frustrations out on the net after blowing a series of break points in the eighth game of the second set.
But his fury was nothing on Djokovic’s when the world No.1 obliterated his racquet on the red dirt after firing a backhand over the baseline to allow the Swiss underdog back on level terms at a set apiece.
Wawrinka piled more pressure on Djokovic when he broke the favourite to love for a 4-2 lead in the third set.
He refused to relinquish the advantage, captured the third set and roared back from 3-0 in the fourth to have Djokovic on the brink, staring down double break point at 15-40 at 3-all.
Djokovic whipped himself – and half the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier – into a frenzy when he staved of Wawrinka’s challenge with some breathtaking tennis to hold for 4-3.
But there was no denying Wawrinka when he nailed yet another backhand winner past Djokovic to break the world No.1 for a fifth time to move to the cusp of victory.
The former Roland Garros junior champion calmly saved a break point before serving out the final to become the first man since Mats Wilander in 1982 to complete the double with men’s glory.