Wawrinka saves Roland Garros from being predictable procession

June 8, 2015

Stan was the man then. Hats off to the Swiss star for beating the unbeatable Djokovic against all the odds in the final of the French Open. Let’s face it, you probably didn’t see it coming. Like me you probably selected him in your Tisque team on the basis that the likes of Federer and Nadal weren’t too likely to be genuine threats at the business end of things, and was selected as nothing much more than background noise in the tournament behind Djokovic and Murray.

A Grand Slam in each of the last two seasons now and clearly as things stand, besides Djokovic and Murray, Wawrinka is looking like the only one who is capable of standing up in the enduring contests. That’s actually saying something because sometimes he looks less than a top ten player frankly. He doesn’t even look as he believes in himself half of the time that he is on court and if you had watched most of his ATP Masters 1000 efforts this season you’d see what we mean, not having gotten past the round of sixteen in any of the four he’s entered this year.

So where did that Roland Garros victory come from? Especially against Djokovic against whom, Wawrinka held a 3-16 head to head record going into the final. It was an odd result, but you have to wonder if whether he was the benefactor of Djokovic's delayed semi against Murray. Murray’s fight back in that game to take it to five sets would have played into Wawrinka’s favor for sure and Djokovic looked short of his best in the second set of the final. But credit to Wawrinka, who must have spotted that, because he just went for every crazy shot in his bag to keep Djokovic flustered.

So Stan’s win saved Roland Garros from the boredom of victories by the favorites in both draws. But nonetheless, thanks for nothing Serena Williams. Suffering through what she described as one of her worst 48 hours of her life because of sickness bug, still no-one could stop her from marching her way to the French Open title. While Novak Djokovic saw his chance of a season’s Grand Slam go down the pan, Serena Williams, with wins at this year’s Australian and French Opens, now has one genuinely shot at it. Just spin your head back twelve months and she looked a spent force but has roared back with the last three Grand Slam titles to her name, starting with last season’s US Open.

Again though, there were signs that the rest of the women’s draw just pushed Wiliams towards her title. Disappointing exits from Roland Garros of Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova just threw more and more weight behind the charge of Williams. It is just down to raw power. That is the thing which defines Williams and gets her out of her quandaries. It’s her big defense. When you are able to not play at your optimum peak tactically, if you just dial up the power-notch to full blast then you are going to win points. It’s what she did in the latter stages of the French Open because she didn’t play any better than Timea Bacsinszky or Lucie Safarova when she faced them.

So why doesn’t that power argument stand with Djokovic? He has power and an unrivalled defense in the game. However, why Williams prevailed and Djokovic didn’t is that Safarova really didn’t know how to tactically get at the American, whereas the variety and bravery that Wawrinka was putting into his shots to keep Djokovic on his toes was the telling factor in the men’s final. You have to dial things back against Williams, cut the pace, play the drop shots, get into the net. Safarova didn’t have it in her game. Wawrinka did and was pretty fearless too. Who would back against a 2015 Serena slam at this point, if the field can’t bring her down when she’s on her knees?

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