Roger Federer had won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon and it has been all about him, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at Majors in the last 15 years and only seven players have managed to steal the biggest trophies from their hands.
Andy Murray did that three times but he is considered as a part of the 'Big 4,' standing above all the other rivals and becoming world number 1 in 2016. One other player had also raised his level to unbelievable heights, claiming three different Grand Slam between 2014-2016 and playing his best tennis after turning 30.
Of course, his name is Stan Wawrinka and he was the fresh air in those years, giving his best against the leading players of the world and beating all three main rivals to enter his name in the history books. Heading to the Australian Open 2014, Stan had only five small ATP titles on his tally before beating Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to claim his maiden Major crown, toppling Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic a year later in Paris to conquer Roland Garros as well.
In 2016, Stan had become the US Open champion after a 6-7 6-4 7-5 6-3 win over Novak Djokovic in three hours and 55 minutes, defeating the Serb at Majors for the third time after being a set down, one of the hardest tasks in the modern tennis. At that moment, Stan was only the fifth player in the Open era with multiple Grand Slam titles after turning 30 (Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi) and at the age of 31 he was the oldest Grand Slam champion since Andre Agassi at the Australian Open 2003 and the oldest in New York since Ken Rosewall in 1970.
Prior to Australian Open 2014, Stan had no wins against Novak since 2006 and now he had outplayed him at the biggest stage for the third time in as many seasons, saving 14 out of 17 break points and winning just one point more than the Serb who had suffered his fifth US Open final loss.
The one was almost certainly done and dusted after dropping the opening set against Novak at Slams but Stan had all the confidence of the world, surviving a match point against Daniel Evans in the third round and winning more tough matches to reach the final where he played his usual game with controlled aggression to overpower a great rival and lift his third Major crown.
He had more winners both from serve, forehand and backhand, creating 10 break chances and converting six to prevail in four sets, having the upper hand in the shortest and the longest points to cross the finish line first.
Novak drew first blood in the second game when Stan netted a backhand and he held at love in game three with a service winner to move 3-0 up after just nine minutes, looking good to defend the title won 12 months ago when he beat another Swiss.
Stan was yet to find the rhythm, saving a break point at 1-4 and still suffering on the return, allowing Novak to move 5-2 up with another comfortable hold. Wawrinka fends off two set points in the next game to stay in the set and out of sudden he created three break chances in game nine, pulling a break with after a double fault from Novak.
Three easy holds later they were in the tie break and Djokovic claimed it 7-1 after a service winner, moving in front after 58 minutes. The Serb was 40-15 up in the fourth game of the second set but he lost four points in a row to get broken, with Stan moving 3-1 in front after a magical backhand down the line winner.
The Swiss had to save three break points in the following game and he fired four winners to bring the game home and increase his advantage to 4-1. Novak did break back in game seven but this there was no time for the tie break as he sprayed a forehand error to lose serve again in game 10 and hand the set to his rival who had the momentum on his side now.
Wawrinka fends off three break points at the start of the third set, making a hold with an ace and breaking Novak in the following game for a 2-0 lead. Djokovic wasted another break point in game three when he netted a backhand but he had another one in game five, converting it after a forehand error from the Swiss to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard.
Wawrinka held after multiple deuces in game nine and he grabbed the pivotal break at 6-5 when Novak's forehand landed long, taking two sets to one lead in just over three hours of an amazing fight. The Swiss was in a much better position now and he broke in the second game of the fourth set to move 3-0 in front with a hold at love a few minutes later.
Djokovic saved a break point in game four to avoid a disaster and he received a medical timeout on his right toe after that game. Stan saved a break point with a volley winner in game five and another one with an unreturned serve before Novak sent a clear forehand long on his third break chance that could have kept him in the match.
Serving for the title at 5-3, Wawrinka held after a deuce for his maiden US Open crown and the third Grand Slam title overall, achieving something that must have been unthinkable for him before January 2014 and proving his status of a big player in the big matches once again.