Despite fresh legs, Djokovic fades in U.S. Open final

Sun Sep 11, 2016 11:20pm EDT
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By Joshua Schneyer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - If being well rested was all Novak Djokovic needed to win the U.S. Open for his third grand slam title of the year, the world number one would have sailed through Sunday's final against Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

The 29-year-old Serb came into the U.S. Open final with less than nine hours playing time at the tournament, completing just three of his six matches. He was gifted with a walkover in the second round and two other opponents retired due to injuries.

Wawrinka, on the other hand, played nearly 18 hours of tennis to reach the final. 

Instead, it was 12-times grand slam winner Djokovic who flinched first from exhaustion and pain in a hard-fought, four-hour battle, which Wawrinka won 6-7(1) 6-4 7-5 6-3.

By the final set, Djokovic said, bleeding toes were severely crimping his mobility. 

    After sailing through a tiebreaker 7-1 to win the first set, Djokovic looked like he might be able to notch a relatively quick victory, crowning a season in which he became the third man ever to hold all four slam titles at once.

But Wawrinka, known for his endurance and blazing one-handed backhand, turned up the pace to capture the second set.

By the end of the third, an epic 76-minute battle that left Djokovic grimacing in the later games, Wawrinka was looking like the steadier player.   Continued...

Sep 11, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot to Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland in the championship match on day fourteen of the 2016 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports