Wawrinka leads Singapore Slammers to IPTL title
Wawrinka turns it on as S'pore outfit go from chumps to champs
He owns an Olympic doubles gold, but Stan Wawrinka is more well-known for winning two Grand Slam singles titles.
Equally adept in both disciplines, Singapore Slammers captain Purav Raja named the 30-year-old Swiss (above) not just in the men's singles, but also the men's doubles in the following match, alongside world No. 1 doubles player Marcelo Melo, when they went up against the Micromax Indian Aces in the International Premier Tennis League final yesterday at the Indoor Stadium.
While Wawrinka is not one for fancy dance moves like Melo, or the antics of Nick Kyrgios, his Waw-factor came to the fore when it was needed.
Down 14-15 after the men's legends, women's singles and mixed doubles, Wawrinka came up with the goods by beating Australian Bernard Tomic 6-3 before teaming up with Melo to down Rohan Bopanna and Ivan Dodig by the same score and seal a 26-21 win over the Aces in 138 minutes of action.
By winning the final and a cool US$1 million ($1.41m) in prize money, the Slammers also completed a remarkable turnaround after they finished with the wooden spoon in the inaugural tournament last year.
Typically, world No. 4 Wawrinka downplayed his contribution, when he said: "I just followed what the captain wanted me to do.
"I came here ready to play... I just came along at the end and helped the team. The team had done an amazing job in the two weeks leading to the final and I was just really happy to finish it off playing with a great player and friend Marcelo.
"This is my first IPTL season and it has been an amazing two weeks. It was a great experience, great fun and great atmosphere. I enjoyed it and it's always nice to win one more title.
"Maybe next year we can come back as a team for three days and win the title again."
It was a fairytale finish for the Slammers in front of their home fans.
Spain's former world No. 1 Carlos Moya needed to come back from 15-40 against Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in the first game of the night and he did just that to get the Slammers off to a great start by winning 6-4 in the men's legends match.
Swiss miss Belinda Bencic, the 18-year-old who is enjoying a breakthrough year, had the crowd on the edge of their seats in her singles clash with Russia's three-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, which went to the wire as the duo traded breaks.
However, Bencic held her nerve to triumph 7-3 in the shoot-out and win her match 6-5.
Perhaps the only Slammers players to disappoint were the mixed doubles pair of German Dustin Brown and Czech Karolina Pliskova, who struggled in their loss to Indian duo Bopanna and Sania Mirza 6-2.
Up stepped Wawrinka with almost impeccable tennis - he never lost his serve last night - to unleash the celebrations both on court and in the stands.
Croat Dodig and Bencic were named the male and female MVPs respectively and pocketed US$50,000 along with the award.
After the thrilling finish, IPTL founder Mahesh Bhupathi was left in no doubt that the competition is going from strength to strength as he looked ahead to the third season next year.
The 12-time Grand Slam doubles winner said: "We couldn't ask for a better finish, where the home team made the final and won.
"The Singapore franchise have done an amazing job. Maybe there was some scepticism last year, but there were good crowds this year across the three days here.
"We thought it was the Roger Federer effect on the first day, but the last two days were as packed, if not more.
"We will continue with five cities and are not looking to grow because it's an Olympic year coming up but I believe fans will be looking forward to next year's competition."