Novak Djokovic vs Stan Wawrinka: US Open Preview and Prediction
The best match of the tournament, for now, is here as 2018 US Open Champion, Novak Djokovic locks horns with 2016 US Open Champion, Stan Wawrinka, in the fourth round of the US Open tomorrow. Both the players are up against each other for the 25th time in their career.
Djokovic will have painful memories of their last meeting at US Open 2016 when he blew away a set lead to lose to Wawrinka in four sets. That was the moment Stan had completely outfoxed him with his ruthless rallying and brilliant backhands. Novak was outplayed on that day. Stan has not won a slam after that triumph but is still a force to reckon with on the tour.
Coming to Djokovic's season, this has been one of the best years of his professional career as he continued his golden run by winning more two more slams - Australian Open and Wimbledon. He came back from the dumps by winning two slams in a row last year- Wimbledon and US Open. Consistency has been his biggest strength this year and he is unstoppable when he gets going.
He began the year with a surprise three-set loss to Roberto Bautista Agut in the semifinals of the Qatar Open. Djokovic won his favourite grand slam, the Australian Open, for a record seventh time defeating some of the best players on the tour- Tsonga, Shapovalov, Medvedev, Nishikori, Pouille, and Nadal. The Serb was too good for Nadal in a rematch of their 2014 final and thrashed him 6-3 6-2 6-3 making it a no contest.
There was a dip in form post that as he lost early in Indian Wells and Miami to Kohlschreiber and Agut. He compensated for those shock losses with a semi-final finish in the men's doubles of the Indian Wells partnering Fabio Fognini as the pair took down experienced doubles teams before losing to Kubot/ Melo in three sets.
Djokovic delivered decent performances on the red dirt reaching the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters where he lost to in-form Medvedev in three sets. He took advantage of Nadal's loss to Tsitsipas in the semifinals of the Madrid Open as he defeated Thiem in the semis and Tsitsipas in the finals to bag the title. Nadal got the better him of him in the Rome Open finals. Djokovic fought very hard in the French Open semifinals but went down to Thiem in a classic five-setter.
He directly entered Wimbledon. He did not feel any pressure of the tag "defending champion" as he stunned Roger Federer in the longest final ever played at Wimbledon (four hours and 57 minutes).
Djokovic showed off his iron-like defense skills saving two championship points when Federer was leading 8-7 (40-15) to win the fifth set 13-12 and win his 16th Grand Slam. Every Federer fan would remember that loss for a lifetime. He also narrowed down the slam gap with only Federer and Nadal marginally ahead at 20 and 18 respectively.
Djokovic made a good move to skip Rogers Cup as he wanted to defend his Cincinnati Open title that he won defeating Federer last year. But, Medvedev proved to be too good again making a strong comeback after losing the first set. Djokovic showing a thumbs-up gesture to Medvedev signalled his respect for his opponent's high-level game that day.
Coming to the US Open, Djokovic has been fighting two battles- against the opponent and his sore shoulder. He required a medical-time out against Londero in the second round and was wondering if he could even complete his match. But Djokovic hung on and won the match in straight sets. He showed no signs of any discomfort in the next match outlasting home hope - Denis Kudla in straight sets.
On the other hand, Stan Wawrinka has not had a great season. Stan has struggled with a knee injury, wobbly form and surprise upsets in 2019. He began the season with a quarterfinal finish in the Qatar Open where he lost to Agut in two sets. Stan lost a great duel with the big-serving Raonic in four gruelling tie-breaks.
His best performance in the season came when he finished as the runner-up in the ATP 500 Rotterdam Open defeating top seeds such as Raonic, Shapovalov, and Nishikori. Monfils had the last laugh as he won against him in three sets in the finals.
Another quarterfinal finish in Acapulco Open followed when he lost to the eventual champion- Kyrgios in a thrilling encounter. The two major hard-court tournaments- Indian Wells and Miami turned out to be a disaster for him as he lost early to Federer and Krajinovic respectively.
Wawrinka's performances in the clay-court season were average with his best show being quarterfinal finishes in the Madrid Open and French Open losing to Nadal and Federer respectively. He did not impress on grass too as he lost in the pre-quarterfinals of the Queens Championships to Mahut- a seasoned doubles player. The big-serving American- Reilly Opelka took him out in five sets in the second round of Wimbledon.
He tried to make amends in the North American hard-court tournaments- Rogers Cup and Cincinnati Open but lost to Khachanov and Rublev making his efforts futile. Wawrinka has slowly and steadily displayed his best tennis in the US Open so far defeating qualifier Sinner, veteran Chardy and lucky loser Paolo Lorenzi. He did suffer a mid-match crisis losing a set in the matches against Sinner and Chardy but won in four sets.
A statistical analysis of Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka ahead of their match
|Player Name||Novak Djokovic||Stan Wawrinka|
Djokovic leads the head to head record comfortably 19-5 but has a narrow edge over Stan in the slam record with four wins and three losses. Wawrinka has always stepped up on the big occasion denying Djokovic a career slam in the French Open finals - 2015 and once again overcoming him in the US Open finals - 2016.
The pressure will be on Novak Djokovic considering the heartbreaking defeats he has suffered against Stan previously, the pressure of being the World Number 1 and the defending champion.
Stan the Man will be looking to dictate terms from set one as Djokovic does not leave any loophole in his game for the opponent to exploit. Wawrinka must also keep in mind of Djokovic's tendency to start slow and gradually improve as the match goes on.
Djokovic will not find it easy either as Stan has been his nemesis before and stands as a big hurdle between Djokovic and the title.
‘There's something with him that when I get into my best game, I know that it's going to have some big rally. I'm going to play good tennis.’ said Wawrinka about Djokovic ahead of the match.
Djokovic has a slight edge due to form and experience but expect Stan to put up a great fight. Tennis fans will be guaranteed of a scintillating show.
Novak Djokovic to win in five sets