By Pritha Sarkar
STAN Wawrinka and his wondrous one-handed backhand managed to pull off a feat no man outside tennis’s Big Four had achieved in the past 40 grand slams – to win
two major titles.
It has been ten long years since anyone not named Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray had been able to boast of being anything other than a one-hit wonder.
Even the one-hit wonders have been a rare commodity, with only Juan Martin del Potro, Wawrinka and Marin Cilic bursting the Big Four’s bubble from May 2005 to May 2015.
On Sunday, Wawrinka finally broke rank as he added the French Open trophy to a collection that already includes a Norman Brookes Cup from the 2014 Australian Open.
So how did he pull off the impossible – and that too by toppling overwhelming favourite and world number one Djokovic in the final?
“I was relaxed on my backhand side and I could hit some wonderful backhands,” Wawrinka summed up simply.
It was a shot that left others purring.
“Wow! Just wow! I wanna play like that!” women’s champion Serena Williams exclaimed on twitter while former professional-turned-coach Ivan Ljubicic added “Holly Swiss cow. That was something #bullets.”
But no one had a better view of the backhand bullets than the man on the opposite side of the net on Sunday.
“He has probably the best one-handed backhand on the tour. No question one of the best one-handed backhands that I have seen in tennis,” Djokovic said after Wawrinka crushed his dream of completing the career grand slam.
“Very powerful and can create a lot of spin, a lot of rotation on the ball. He can hit it flat down the line. He can block the ball very well. He has a short slice, long slice. He has a lot of variety from that part of his baseline game.”
The most spectacular of those eye-popping shots was unleashed towards the end of the third set, with Wawrinka curling a backhand down the line around the netpost to polish off one of the 60 winners he produced on Sunday.
So does Wawrinka think he can now bully his way to more major titles and herald the disbanding of the Big Four?
“I’m not as strong as the Big Four. They are winning everything,” said the Swiss, who overcame the world’s top two players to triumph in Paris as he also beat fellow Swiss Federer in the quarters.
“But I’m strong enough to win some big title sometimes during the years.
“I’m not as good as the Big Four. But I’m quite good enough to win two grand slam tournaments. I can beat them in major tournaments, in a semi-final, in a final. But once again, the Big Four will always be the Big Four.”
As far as Federer was concerned though, there was only word needed to describe Wawrinka on Sunday: “CHAMP”.