(1) Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs (3) Stan Wawrinka (SUI)
The US Open has thrown up some unexpected results this year. Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Milos Raonic and Marin Čilić were all sent packing far earlier than expected. The draw has consequently opened up for other contenders but it is the familiar faces in Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka who have fought their way through and find themselves playing off for the title.
Djokvic came into the US Open under a slight injury cloud and his form looked vulnerable prior to the tournament. He has had a relatively easy run to the final, which has included a walkover and two retirements. It is difficult to determine whether this is good preparation or not, but I’m still expecting a strong showing from the world number 1.
Stan Wawrinka has spent a considerable amount of time on court. He has played almost 10 more sets of tennis than Djokovic but he looked good when he was challenged by Del Potro in the quarter-final and Nishikori in the semis. Stan loves the big matches and I expect him to take the challenge right up to Djokovic in what I think will be a great final.
How Novak Djokovic will win…
Boris Becker was asked of Djokovic’s tactics prior to last year’s French Open Final where he was beaten by Wawrinka. Novak’s plan was to stay in the point and wait for Wawrinka to miss shots, however unfortunately for Djokovic, Wawrinka was too good. I expect similar tactics from Djokovic in this final. He will make Stan play plenty of shots and try and overwork his backhand which whilst having the ability to be destructive, can also concede numerous errors at times. Despite expecting to see these similar tactics, Novak will have to be less tentative than he was in the French Open last year, particularly on the faster surface as he can’t just rely on Warwinka missing his shots. Novak will need to control the match from the baseline and can’t let Stan get comfortable from the back of the court. If he can work Stan’s big shots over and make him uncomfortable, then I suspect he will be too strong.How Stan Wawrinka will win…
Wawrinka has a superb record in big matches of late. He has won his last 10 consecutive tour finals, 2 of which have included the Australian and French Open titles. Stan will look at moving Djokovic around the court and keeping him well behind the baseline with his power game. He has the ability to generate big angles on his shots, particularly his backhand and I expect him to try and open up the court and out-hit Novak from the baseline. Warwinka will definitely go after more winners than Djokovic, so the match could well come down to how low he can keep his error count. If he can bring a performance that was anything like his French Open defeat of Djokovic last year, he will be very difficult to beat.Prediction
Djokovic has had an odd tournament. He came into the US Open admitting to having some personal issues as well as some injury troubles. His form has definitely been better and he has received no less than 3 walkovers/retirements. He also seemed flustered and appeared agitated at times despite winning in 4 sets against Gaël Monfils in the semis. Wawrinka has spent a lot of time on court but his last two matches against Del Potro and Nishikori have been impressive. In the two grand slam finals he has played in, Stan has relished the occasion and played some flawless tennis. He has the artillery to beat anyone on his day and goes into this final as the underdog having nothing to lose. In contrast to Djokovic’s opponents this tournament, Wawrinka is a considerable step-up in quality and I expect him to throw everything at Djokovic. Novak hasn’t really been pushed this tournament and this could prove a big problem for him if Stan gets on top. Wawrinka has looked good in his past 2 matches and seems to be hitting his straps. The way he plays is highly suited to big matches and he has shown that he knows how to win majors. I think he’ll be too good given Novak’s current form.
Wawrinka in 4 Sets