NEW YORK, September 10, 2016
Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka will go head to head in Sunday’s final of the US Open. The world number one overcame Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in a chaotic and disjointed match on Friday night.
Djokovic seemed on his way to clinch the opening set 6-0 when the Frenchman started to change his tactics at 5-1, slicing nearly everything back, chosing to hit through the ball only when Djokovic approached the net. The change irked Djokovic, who double faulted and got broken.
“I was completely caught off guard when he just stood there and chipped the ball back and didn’t do much. If I would get to the net he would go for the passing shot and hit some impossible gets and balls,” Djokovic said.
“I’ve seen strategy changes,” ESPN analyst John McEnroe said on the broadcast, “but this tops everything. Even Sigmund Freud above couldn’t figure this out.
“This is bordering on unprofessional. The only reason I’m saying borderline is because it’s working.”
Later, Monfils said he was “sad” to hear former champion John McEnroe had questioned his professionalism.
“I’m very sad to learn that such a legend criticised me,” said Monfils.
“At the end what I can say to John is, you know John, I want to be the best. It’s tough. I try my best. I’m sorry if you think I’m unprofessional but I guess I’m working, I’m learning.
“I think I’m failing a lot but I try to stand up. It’s tough because when he calls me unprofessional, he calls my coach unprofessional, he calls my physio unprofessional, all my team unprofessional.”
The change of tactics seemed to work out to a certain point. Monfils was back in the first set at 5-3 but Djokovic claimed the opener in 36 minutes. In the second set, the 29-year-old Serb upped his level but Monfils came alive in the third set.
“The momentum shifted. He felt his chance was there. He got it. Crowd got into it,” Djokovic said but got back in control and broke serve in the sixth game of the fourth set to eventually seal victory in two hours and 32 minutes.
“I just managed to hold my nerves and be patient and close out the match in good fashion,” Djokovic was pleased.
Wawrinka Into His Third Grand Slam Final
Wawrinka rallied from an early deficit to defeat Kei Nishikori 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2, setting a championship clash against the top seed. The third seed from Switzerland sent down 10 aces and hit 38 winners to advance in three hours and seven minutes.
“I knew I could always come back,” said Wawrinka on ESPN’s set following the match. “My game plan is to be aggressive. I knew I could fight for three, four, five hours. I want to make them suffer and that’s what I did against Del Potro and today as well.”
In head-to-head records, Djokovic leads Wawrinka 19-3. Yet, Wawrinka’s biggest win came over Djokovic last year in the French Open final, and Wawrinka has won his past 10 finals in a row.
“I’m really excited,” Wawrinka said in his on-court interview. “I watched the final so many times here. Roger and Novak are great champions. To play in the final against him is going to be special. Hopefully, I’m going to be ready.”