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US OPEN

Djokovic wary of “big match player” Wawrinka

The Serb is hoping to dispatch two of his most traumatic Grand Slam losses to the dustbin of history when he tackles old foe Stan Wawrinka for the US Open title tomorrow.

Djokovic wary of “big match player” Wawrinka
JUSTIN LANE EFE

Djokovic out to get even with Wawrinka

Novak Djokovic is hoping to dispatch two of his most traumatic Grand Slam losses to the dustbin of history when he tackles old foe Stan Wawrinka for the US Open title tomorrow.

The world No.1 takes a not-unsubstantial 19-4 head-to-head lead over the 31-year-old Swiss into the match. On paper at least, that should suggest a comfortable afternoon on Arthur Ashe Stadium for Djokovic, playing in his 21st major final and seeking a third Grand Slam title this year and 13th in total. But an upset on Sunday wouldn’t be the first time that Wawrinka has ruined the Serb’s day.

Wawrinka won a five-set quarter-final on his way to a first Grand Slam win at the Australian Open two years ago. And 12 months earlier the warning signs were evident in Melbourne when Djokovic needed to grind out a 12-10 final set in the fourth round. And last year, Djokovic saw his hopes of completing a career Slam ended in four sets by the Swiss in the Roland Garros final.

Wawrinka revels in big game pressure

“He's a big match player. He loves to play on the big stage, against big players, because that's when he elevates his level of performance”, Djokovic told reporters today. “He doesn't get too stressed by the big occasion. He's very powerful, big serve - probably the best, most effective one-handed backhand in the world now. He can be very dangerous”.

While Djokovic has enjoyed a walkover and two injury-forced retirements on his way to the final, Wawrinka had to save a match point against Dan Evans earlier in the competition. He has also spent almost 18 hours on court while Djokovic has strolled to the final in just over nine. However, the big Swiss has won his last 10 finals and will draw on those as well as his Slam record with Djokovic for inspiration.

He said on the eve of the game: “Telling myself that I know I can do will give me confidence; I did it at the French Open. He knows that I can play my best tennis in the final”.