Saturday, June 13, 2015


Okay, we all know by now that Swiss player Stan Wawrinka has earned the French Open title for 2015. And what a match it was! Three hours and eleven minutes of grit, clay, and yes, dueling gladiators at it once again.

Novak Djokovic, world number 1, played valiantly, precise with flair and execution, but Stan was determined. Now. Today. I want this. And so he did, Stan wins in four sets, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Wow, what numbers! The numbers do not lie, they are about the picture of the day, both players with might of steel, and it boiled down to who wanted the title more. And it was Stan, now currently ranked number 8 in the world, gaining his second grand slam title.

You could just see the determination on Stan's face, the intensely focused eyes, the straight mouth, all presented in a total package of kindness and strength of character, of body, of mind. Wow.

Let's take a look at how Stan won, in the fourth set.  Novak Djokovic is coasting along. 1-0, 2-0, 3-0. Oh, no! What will Stan do? 

Would it be more advantageous for Stan to ride out the fourth set, save his energy, and battle out the match in the fifth set? But, then, Novak has such stamina, maybe from his highly disciplined gluten free diet, maybe from sheer will of his difficult past of being a survivor as a child from a war torn country; Novak's story is full of love and determination, it is what makes him a champion.

Somehow, Stan wins a game. Okay, keep your energy, do you really have to compete in these games? Just get to the fifth set, and play your heart out. Why expend covetrd energy when you may lose it? You are  guaranteed a fifth set, save it till then.

Now Stan wins another game. Hmmm, there may be a chance. He is playing hard, and Novak could very well be bewildered thinking what we are thinking, what is going on here? Did Novak let his guard down, thinking he'd easily take the fourth set?

This touch of hubris is quite natural and human, even among champions, after all, he was up three games, what do you want?  And without looking, Stan fights back. Novak does too, but mentally he is wrong footed. Stan is battling. And battling.

Stan wins another game. Three in a row, just like Novak and now, miraculously, the score is even, 3-3!!!

The games continue, there is a break of serve, that is all it takes, and Stan emerges as the champion! Woah! It is almost as if he pulled a fast one.  Without blinking an eye, he barrels ahead, blasts Novak and takes the crown. King Stanislas Wawrinka!

There are different ways to win a set, a match, not simply brawn, but mental strategy plays a role, and I think that is what Stan employed against Novak. Naturally getting more games early on could have been better, but with Novak's lead of three games, he was too much on automatic pilot to pay attention to Stan's fight and prowess.

How to come back and finish the match

On a much smaller scale, this happened to me in a singles match this week. I lost the first set 3-6, then I am losing at 0-3. My opponent was tricky, and I was trying. And trying. Then, something happened. I thought of Stan and how he came back. I did not want to lose, terribly at that. I tried harder and harder. Keep the ball in. Keep the ball away from my opponent. I win a game. I win another, and another. We are tied at 3-3. Oh good, do not think too much, play! I am up 4-3, then 5-3, then 6-3! I just won 6 games in a row!

I could not believe it, what happened here? I heard her say later to a friend she"fell asleep" in the second set and was "busy watching me." Interesting. So, I am dominating. Have to remember that, keep thy opponent looking at me (anything but the ball). BUT, in the third set tiebreaker, first to get 10 points and win by 2, she wins. She certainly woke up then!

Maybe I was the one to fall asleep? Rest on my laurels as she took the third set at 10-5? I tried hard, really hard, but in hindsight what she did was ultimately control the point, move me around, then come in for the winner. She took shots from the air, and hit fast down the line. You learn by your mistakes, and also court experience.

The next day, I won a doubles third set tiebreaker, this time 10-6. How did we win?

Same time frame, two hours, but my partner and I figured out how our opponents were winning points, then we removed their strategy. How? They consistently hit high deep lobs, and if we let the ball bounce, by the third shot, we lost it. Bam, their point. So, we looked for the soft high ball then took it out of the air, and we controlled the point from then on. We removed their shots from the game.

Perhaps that is what Stan did to Novak??


Here is a 27 minute Youtube of the match, you decide~

And the winner is~

courtesy courier mail

"I played the match of my life," Stanislas Wawrinka.
For more on Stan and Novak, please see my DUELING GLADIATORS, an epic 5 hour match between the two at the Australian Open 2013.

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