Tennis: Wawrinka suffered anxiety attack five minutes before US Open final

Stan Wawrinka broke down in tears five minutes before facing Novak Djokovic in last month's US Open final. Photo / AP
Stan Wawrinka broke down in tears five minutes before facing Novak Djokovic in last month's US Open final. Photo / AP

Stan Wawrinka has revealed he had an anxiety attack before his US Open final win over Novak Djokovic and tried to "hurt" himself on court to try to take his mind off the stress he was feeling.

The five-time grand slam champion has previously admitted he broke down in tears just five minutes before walking onto Arthur Ashe Stadium to face Djokovic.

"A lot of people are asking me how I was able to take the court, nonchalantly, when five minutes prior to that I had a stress attack and I was trying to hold back tears," Wawrinka wrote in a column for Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche. "I tried [but] I wasn't able to.

"I was close to breaking point - the moment where you let it all out, physically and nervously. I really felt I was at my limit. Maybe with the heat everyone thought I was perspiring.

"So, how did I do it? I'll tell you. I hurt myself. I tried to extend rallies as much as possible - one more shot, and another - to make the legs churn and not the head.

I pushed myself until I ran out of breath. Past that point the mind isn't too capable of thinking."

Wawrinka revealed he nearly forfeited in the first set, already feeling fatigued. He saved a match point in a five-set thriller over Great Britain's Dan Evans in the third round and was pushied by both Kei Nishikori in the semifinals and Juan Martin del Potro in a quarter-final four-setter. In total, he'd spent nearly 18 hours on court before the final, which he won 6-7 (1) 6-4 7-5 6-3 over 12-time grand slam champion Djokovic.

"When I'm nervous like that, the fatigue feels a lot, lot stronger," he said. "And my legs hurst so much. I even screamed at my box, 'I can't make it. I'm dead. My legs are gone'.
"I was hurting so much. I was pushing myself so hard. I was so out of breath that I finally ended up muffling those little voices in my head.

"I'm telling you this with a smile today, but you can't imagine to what extent those voices can sometimes be overwhelming. With the fatigue I was no longer thinking about those voices and I even started to play well, to let a few shots go with the backhand and on serve."

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