How Stan Wawrinka Won the US Open
The 2016 US Open was a thrill ride that ended up with surprising results on both the men’s and women’s sides. While Angelique Kerber winning on the women’s side was a little surprising, the fact that Stan Wawrinka triumphed over Novak Djokovic on the men’s side was a truly shocking result. No one gave Wawrinka much of a chance to win the tournament before it began. Here is a look at how Wawrinka managed to capture his third Grand Slam title.
The Coaching of Magnus Norman
Without a doubt, the greatest thing to ever happen to Stan Wawrinka during his tennis career was to hook up with his current coach, Magnus Norman. Wawrinka turned to Norman for help in 2013 after a heartbreaking fifth set loss to Djokovic in the 2013 Australian Open. That loss was the tenth in a row Wawrinka had suffered at the hands of Djokovic, and he knew that something had to change if he was to make the leap from a good player to a great one.
How Norman Transformed Wawrinka’s Game
When Norman started coaching Wawrinka, he already had the best backhand in the game. Some think it may be the best backhand in tennis history. However, his forehand and serve needed fine-tuning, and his mental fortitude was practically non-existent. Norman knew that the battle between the ears would be the toughest battle to fight for Wawrinka. He had all the physical tools he needed to be an elite player, but he needed the mental toughness that all the great ones rely upon to get through the rough patches.
This mental toughness that Norman worked on with Wawrinka started to pay dividends the next year at the Australian Open. In the semifinals of the 2014 Australian Open, Wawrinka beat Djokovic for the first time in years on the way to lifting his first Grand Slam trophy. Since that time, Wawrinka has now beat Djokovic in the 2105 French Open Final as well as this most recent triumph to win the 2016 US Open.
Still Work to Be Done
While Norman has improved Wawrinka’s mental toughness, there is still work to be done. Perhaps that is why Wawrinka was considered an afterthought to win the 2016 US Open. Most betting sites had Wawrinka as a 14-1 longshot to win. Those odds looked about right when Wawrinka had to save a match point to beat 64th-ranked Dan Evans in the third round. His mental toughness was still in question.
This near upset seemed to wake Wawrinka up. From that point on, he rolled through the competition in the US Open. However, even Wawrinka was not convinced that he could beat Djokovic in the final. In the locker room before the match, Stan was very nervous. He was shaking and crying, looking to Coach Norman for support.
Norman reminded Wawrinka that he had been the exact same way before he went out and beat Djokovic in the 2015 French Open Final. The coach told Wawrinka to remember that and to go out and demonstrate his mental toughness on the court.
Wawrinka went out and did just that. After losing a tight first set in a tiebreak, Wawrinka proceeded to destroy the great champion Djokovic over the next three sets. After winning key points in the match, Wawrinka would point his finger at his head. This gestures encapsulated everything that had changed about Wawrinka’s game.
Where once he was one of the softest players on tour and would always buckle under pressure, Wawrinka is now one of the mentally toughest competitors in the game. His ruthless demotion of Djokovic serves notice that Wawrinka is now to be just as feared as Djokovic and Murray. It should make for an interesting ATP Tour as these three players will have to fight with each other to prove who is now the best player in the game.