Watch: Wawrinka left heartbroken, reduced to tears after title loss in Umag | Tennis News - Hindustan Times
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Watch: Wawrinka left heartbroken, reduced to tears after being denied shot at history and ending title drought in Umag

Jul 31, 2023 10:35 AM IST

The former World No. 3 Wawrinka was hoping to win his first ever ATP title since his victory in Geneva in 2017 and become the oldest title holder at 38

Stan Wawrinka's tryst with injuries has long denied him a consistent run on the ATP tour despite having produced some of the breathtaking performances on comeback. But ATP 250 Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag witnessed Wawrinka back at his best, if not at his vintage self. The 16-time tour-level champion gave himself a shot at history to become the oldest title winner on tour at 38 and end his long-standing title drought as he reached his first ever final in three years and nine months. But a gritty Alexei Popyrin, who battled cramps through the humid conditions late in Sunday’s final, came down from a set down to deny Wawrinka the opportunity, leaving the Swiss in tears as he addressed the crowd after the bitter loss.

Stan Wawrinka was denied a shot at winning his first tour-level title since 2017
Stan Wawrinka was denied a shot at winning his first tour-level title since 2017

Wawrinka rallied from 3-5 down to win the opening set tie-break in what was his first ever tour-level meeting with Popyrin. The Aussie however showed relentless power hitting to level the match force a deciding third set. But amid a neck-and-neck battle in the third set, Popyrin was severely hindered by cramp on his right leg during the fourth game, which forced him to change his tactic and shorten the rallies and the strategy eventually worked as he emerged as the victor at the end of a two hour 36-minute battle on Croatian clay.

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The former World No. 3 Wawrinka, who was hoping to win his first ever ATP title since his victory in Geneva in 2017 and become the oldest title holder at 38, struck some breathtaking backhands, but it wasn't enough to prevent Popyrin, who converted four of the nine break points en route to his second career singles title.

The loss left Wawrinka heartbroken as he was reduced to tears during his speech. But he somehow mustered strengthen to thank the fans for their support. He said: “I know it’s so stupid to cry, but I love this sport so much. You make it really special. Amazing week. Hopefully I can come back. Thank you for the support. Thank you for being here. Hopefully I see you next year.”

Popyrin's tribute to ‘legend’ Wawrinka

Despite it being a significant win in his career, his first since he won on indoor hard courts in Singapore in 2021, which will see him jump 33 spots to take a career-best ranking of 57, the 23-year-old paid a rich tribute to Wawrinka, whom he hailed as a "legend".

“It’s an unbelievable honour to play somebody like Stan in a final," said Popyrin. "I grew up watching him, Roger, Rafa, Novak play. To play him in a final and beat him in a final, words can’t describe how happy I am. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

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