Wawrinka lost to Australia's Alexei Popyrin 6-7 6-3 6-4 in slightly over two and a half hours, which effectively ended his bid for the 17th ATP title of his career. The Swiss, at 38, was looking to lift his first Tour-level title since his comeback from multiple knee injuries, but could not build on his one-set lead.
An aggressive Popyrin beat tired limbs and overcame a bout of cramps in the decider. He broke Wawrinka' serve in the ninth game of the final set with a cheeky drop shot and was ice cold in serving for the match. The triumph was Popyrin's second ATP title - a welcome relief after a tough 2022 season.
For Wawrinka, who has pretty much won almost every big accolade in the sport, this was a tough one to swallow. He has battled career-ending knee surgeries and is still showing incredible love for the sport and ambition at his age. He broke down in tears during the post-match trophy presentation after coming so close to adding to his trophy cabinet.
"Guys, thank you so much. I know it's so stupid to cry, but I love this sport so much, you make it really special. Amazing week and I really hope I can come back thank you for the support during the week, thank you for being here and hopefully I see you next year."
An inspired Popyrin had nothing to lose in the final. The Aussie was having the week of his life, beating some of the fastest-rising clay-court challengers on tour en route to the final. Popyrin admitted quitting was not an option despite having experienced a cramp in his quad.
"My quad was done at 2-1. I felt it cramp, I felt it strain. I think it’s pulled, but I managed to dig deep. I don’t know how I won it, honestly. I honestly don’t know. I even told the physio when he came out."
"I said, there’s no point in quitting now, I’m here in the final. If I lose, I lose. If I retire, I lose anyway. So I have a better chance of winning if I stay in."