Laussane - Stan Wawrinka has revealed that he endured an anxiety attack
just moments before stepping out to face world number one Novak Djokovic in the
final of the US Open last month.
Five minutes before he was scheduled to step out onto the
court at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Wawrinka admitted that he broke down in tears due
to the stress and pressure he was feeling.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the world number three also
conceded that he deliberately tried to “hurt” himself on the court during his
clash with 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 was fatigued before the start of the final after
spending nearly 18 hours on court between his third round match with Dan Evans
and his semi-final encounter with Kei Nishikori.
Nonetheless, he overcame fatigue and anxiety issues to
defeat Djokovic 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 to capture his first-ever US Open title
and the third grand slam title of his career.
"When I'm nervous like that, the fatigue feels a lot,
lot stronger," he said. "And my legs hurt 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
"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."