NEW YORK (AP) — Mere minutes before heading out to face Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final, Stan Wawrinka met in the locker room with his coach and felt as nervous as he ever had. Wawrinka was shaking. Started to cry, even.
“I don’t want to lose the final in a Grand Slam, that simple. That’s the only reason,” he explained later. “The feeling of: You don’t want to lose. I don’t want to come to the court and lose a final. So close, so far.”
Once he was on the court, and got over some shaky play at the very start, Wawrinka’s game and mindset were strong as can be, as they always seems to be these days when the stakes are highest. Repeatedly pointing his right index finger to his temple, the gesture he uses when showing his mettle, Wawrinka surprisingly wore down No. 1 Djokovic and beat the defending champion 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 for his first U.S. Open title and third Grand Slam trophy overall.
“He was the better player. He was tougher mentally,” said Djokovic, offering two of the highest compliments a tennis player can receive from the talented Serb. “He knew what to do.”
The 31-year-old Wawrinka is the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion since Ken…