Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic met in a surprise matchup at the 2015 French Open.
After maintaining a solid presence on the ATP Tour for nearly a decade, Wawrinka finally became a Grand Slam champion at the 2014 Australian Open. The Swiss, who’d been in the shadows of his countryman Roger Federer for most of his career, almost defended the title before falling to Djokovic in a five-set semifinal.
At the French Open, Wawrinka—eager to put the shock of a first-round defeat in 2014 behind him—advanced to the final, beating Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters and semis, respectively. Meanwhile, Djokovic was also battling through to the championship match as he sought to complete the career Grand Slam, with his run including a win over the king of Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal.
In their prior two matches at the Grand Slam level, Djokovic and Wawrinka engaged in epic five-set battles at the Australian Open in 2014 and ‘15, splitting the contests. In this, their first-ever matchup at Roland Garros, Djokovic came out on top in the first set, taking it 6-4.
Having played a solid opener, Wawrinka maintained his level of confidence throughout the second. As Djokovic served to stay in the set, Wawrinka broke him to level the match at a set apiece. In the third, Wawrinka kept the pressure on Djokovic, striking winner after winner against the Serb, who saw multiple drop shots from his side prove to be ineffective. Wawrinka soon gained a two-sets-to-one lead, and the match appeared destined to become their third five-set thriller.
However, Wawrinka—sensing the finish line in sight—dispelled any notion of that as he’d go on to win the fourth set 6-4. The victory gave the Swiss his second Grand Slam title in just over a year as he became the second man to add to his junior victory at the tournament.
The French Open became the lone major Djokovic lost three finals at before winning the title. Previously, he lost the 2007 and 2010 US Open finals before winning the title in 2011.
For the second year in a row, Wawrinka secured three titles in a season after only winning four total between 2006 and 2013.
Wawrinka’s win made him the fifth male player in the 21st century to win the title with a one-handed backhand.
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