Triumphant Wawrinka dashes Djokovic's Paris dream

Sun Jun 7, 2015 4:38pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

PARIS (Reuters) - As his blazing backhand skidded off from inside the baseline, Stanislas Wawrinka sent his racket rocketing skywards after dashing Novak Djokovic's French Open dreams with a victory barely anyone expected on Sunday.

It was a 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 triumph only Wawrinka's nearest and dearest saw coming as the Swiss was facing a player who had looked destined to join the all-time greats by becoming the eighth man to complete a career grand slam.

But destiny and reality were not on the same wavelength on Sunday as Djokovic, who had conquered nine-times champion Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals and third seed Andy Murray in the semis, fell two sets short of the one title he so desperately desires.

"I played the match of my life, it's hard to believe. Playing against Novak was one of the biggest challenges. I know how much he wanted this Roland Garros," a gracious Wawrinka told the crowd after adding the French Open title to his 2014 Australian Open success.

The fans, who had tried to rouse Djokovic throughout the fourth set by chanting his nickname "No-le, No-le, No-le" realized how crushing the defeat must mean for the Serb and gave him a prolonged standing ovation that reduced him to tears.

"I want to say congratulations to Stan and it is not very easy for me to speak now, there are things in life that are more important than victories and that is character and respect," the eight-times grand slam champion said after coming off second best at Roland Garros for the third time.

"I've got a lot of respect for you Stan, you're a great champion with a big heart, you deserve this title."

After failing to join the magnificent seven of men's tennis -- Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal -- by completing the career slam, Djokovic said: "I will be back next year to try again to win the title.   Continued...

Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland poses with the trophy during the ceremony after winning the men's final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, June 7, 2015.                  REUTERS/Vincent Kessler