Wawrinka is the oldest US Open men's champion in 46 years. (Photo: AP)
Johannesburg: World number three Stan Wawrinka, who captured his maiden US Open title this year, has revealed that he suffered an anxiety attack just minutes before stepping out onto the court to face top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the finals at Flushing Meadows.
"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. I tried [but] I wasn't able to," Wawrinka was quoted as saying by Sport24.
The 31-year-old Swiss informed that he deliberately tried to 'hurt' himself on court in order to take his mind off the stress, which he was feeling before his 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 win over Djokovic.
"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," he added.
Wawrinka was fatigued before the start of the summit showdown as he spent nearly 18 hours on court between his third round clash against Briton opponent Dan Evans and his semi-final encounter with Japan's Kei Nishikori.
"When I'm nervous like that, the fatigue feels a lot, lot stronger. 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 head," he said.
With the win, Wawrinka also became the oldest US Open men's champion in 46 years. Earlier, Ken Rosewall held that record when he won the tournament in 1970.