There was only one name in Paris on June 7 but astonishingly, it wasn’t Novak Djokovic. Instead, it was the 30-year old Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka who emerged triumphant after a three-hour long classic and became only the second Swiss player to win the French Open, after Roger Federer. The final scoreline read 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

By all accounts, it was a result few expected. Djokvoic was considered the overwhelming favourite, ranked No. 1 and coming off a 28-win streak, which included Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray as its victims.  He looked right on top of his game throughout the tournament – in fact, before it started, the prospect of Djokovic's completing a Grand Slam (winning all the four major titles in one calendar year) looked a distinct possibility.

David vs Goliath

“Simply put, it would take a performance of phenomenal perfection from Stan Wawrinka to deny Djokovic,” said The Guardian, right before the start of the match.

Wawrinka did one better. In a pulsating, thrilling match, he played the kind of game that belied his No. 8 seeding. But it was never one-sided. Djokovic fought hard and bravely. There were times when he almost came back into the match and forced several errors from Wawrinka. But ultimately, it was Wawrinka’s day.

The statistics tell their own story. Wawrinka put in nine aces, compared to Djokovic’s six. But the most important statistic was the number of winners – Wawrinka had 60, twice as many as his rival.

At the end of the first set, it looked like it was going to script. Wawrinka was fighting hard and testing Djokvoic. But Djokovic was playing like a true World No 1, weathering the storm, soaking up all of Warwinka’s attacks and then erupting just when he sensed a weakness. The first set finished 6-4. Djokovic was pumped. The title looked near. Wawrinka had put up a good fight in the first set but you expected him to fade away soon.

Wawrinka steps up

But Wawrinka didn’t. The Swiss did something else – he drew inspiration from somewhere and played some of the most brilliant tennis of his career. The second set was punctuated by numerous unforced errors from Wawrinka. Tied at 4-4, it could have gone either way, but Wawrinka shook off the errors and delivered several stinging forehands and backhands to just about squeak through, winning it 6-4.

From then on, it was a much more confident Wawrinka. Djokovic remained stubborn and tried out his usual drop shot wizardry to continue making things difficult for the Swiss. To give him credit, he never gave up. But the third set can be summed up by probably the shot of the tournament from Wawrinka – a low backhand which went around the net, leaving Djokovic stunned. For a moment, the crowd remained stunned, unable to believe what they had just seen. When the set ended 6-3 in favour of Wawrinka, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Djokovic.

Except that in the fourth set, it felt as though Wawrinka’s success was creating doubts in his own head. A series of unforced errors later, Djokovic was up 3-0. Memories flooded back of other Djokovic-Wawrinka encounters – many which had gone into the fifth set with Djokovic holding on. This had been a fairytale while it lasted, but would the World No.1 pull all of us back into reality?

Wawrinka wasn’t going to take that chance this time. He wasn’t going to let Djokovic take it to the fifth set. Some never-ending-rallies later, Wawrinka had pulled it back to 3-3. And with one last ounce of inspiration, he threw everything he had at Djokovic. That special backhand clicked into place, those volleys eluded Djokovic by a whisker. With one last one-handed backhand, Wawrinka sent it past Djokovic to raise his hand in triumph.

Djokovic looked emotional and drained at the podium, but was magnanimous in defeat, saying that “he had great respect for Stan”. It was tennis of the highest quality – the sort of final which the tournament richly deserved.