He was moved to tears after the lost final in Umag. Stan Wawrinka went down against the serve violence and the good play of the Australian Alexei Popyrin. We wrote several times that Wawrinka’s opponents tried to play him out of position by making him run a lot. No one managed to be successful with this against the Swiss, except for his last opponent Popyrin. Wawrinka also made it very difficult for himself by handing in his service at the start of all three sets. So he had to fight back every time to stay in the match. In the first set he succeeded and after a re-break he managed to win the tiebreak. In the second set he did not (6-3), so a decisive third set had to be played. After also immediately losing his service game, the first assignment was to break back as quickly as possible.
And that is exactly what he did, making the score 1-1 again. Still every chance for the Swiss to claim the title. He seemed to be helped by the fact that Popyrin started to pull his leg in the course of the third set and could hardly move. It looked like a cramp. In the medical time-out that followed, Popyrin was patched up as best he could and apparently got a painkiller. Gradually the Australian was apparently less bothered by the injury and supported by his fast and hard first serve, which is rarely below 200 km, he managed to keep the pressure on Wawrinka. Popyrin sent him in all directions of the court and at 4-4 he managed to break Wawrinka. ‘Just serve the match and you’re champion’ was Popyrin’s motto, but every tennis player knows that this easier said than done.
But Popyrin remained cool and served for the crown in Umag. His second ATP title, the 23-year-old Australian previously won his first title in Singapore. His parents were not there then. Now they were present, and Alexei was visibly moved. Family is everything to him and he expressly thanked his parents for all the support he had always had from them. Of course he did not leave his team and girlfriend unmentioned. Wawrinka was not quite in control of his emotions either. Of course there was the disappointment about the lost final, about which he also said that Alexei was the rightful winner. But there was more than just disappointment. Umag is close to his heart. The enormous support from the public, the tournament organization and the fact that he won his first title here long ago, in 2006, brought back all kinds of memories that struck a chord with the sympathetic Swiss. As usual, the ceremony, and thus the tournament, ended with a grand fireworks display. We are already looking forward to the 2024 tournament.
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