At the ATP Masters Series in Rome, the finals came down to Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka, a Swiss player on the rise. This was the latter’s first ATP Masters Series final. After dropping the first set, Djokovic recovered to claim his first ATP Masters trophy on the red dirt 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
After starting his first service game with a double fault, Wawrinka, who looked a bit edgy, calmed down and kept toe to toe with the world number three, who himself appeared on his heel throughout the first set. Wawrinka’s one handed backhand, his most prolific shot, had good depth and range getting him off the hook on a couple of close service games. In the seventh game with Djokovic serving, a fortuitous net court, a superb backhand winner and a double fault presented the first break points for either player which Wawrinka eventually capitalized on to lead 4-3; the Swiss took the first set 6-4.
The second set began without much to differentiate the two players. Yet, one conspicuous fact was that Djokovic had trouble with finding the right distance on his backhand with 8 unforced errors to 2 winners. Djokovic tried to mix things up by coming to the net, but without much success. On the other hand, Wawrinka did not have a strangle hold on this match either. As the rallies became longer the Swiss competitor commenced to produce more errors on both wings. In the first set, Stanislas won over 70% of his second serve points while Novak less than 40%. The contrary was happening in the second set. A frustrated Djokovic finally seized an opening in the sixth game, converted the break taking a 4-2 lead and carried the set 6-3.
At the commencement of the decisive set, Wawrinka again flirted with danger and that cost him dearly. With his first opportunity to break, Djokovic put his nose in front 1-0. From then on, Djokovic’s opponent withered away, paralyzed by a litter of unforced errors. As the net play and the drop shots which were not clicking for Djokovic earlier, started to find their mark, the match turned around. In the ninth game of the set with Wawrinka in dire straits, Djokovic broke one last time to take the championship.
With two retirements clearing his path and his not facing any seeded player for the duration of the tournament, Djokovic’s win is difficult to put into perspective vis-à-vis Roland Garros.