If you were to look up Stanislas Wawrinka on Wikipedia and scroll down to the ‘Playing Style’ section you’d notice that, according to whoever wrote this entry, the Swiss star’s biggest fault is his lack of mental toughness. Having watched him win the Australian Open this week, I believe this line should now be scratched and never entered again.
The 28-year-old has, in the past year, shown facets to his game we did not think he had, hanging with and bettering those who had been considered all-round better players by fans of live tennis online. His stunning victory over Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals was the culmination of years of hard work, the majority of which did not look as though it had paid off.
At the 2012 Australian Open, Wawrinka was dumped out of the tournament in the third round by Nicholas Almagro and was considered as nothing more than “the other Swiss tennis player”. His remarkable rise shows he is way more than that.
Despite making it to consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals the Olympic double’s gold medallist is continually written off by tennis betting pundits. Minutes after his semi-final triumph over Tomas Berdych his stats when facing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were dragged up, as if to dismiss him as a genuine title contender.
He may never have beaten Rafael Nadal but that record no longer matters. Warwinka had lost 14 out of 14 to Djokovic before this week but has now set that record straight as well.
What has gone on before should count for very little when you step out on court, and Wawrinka is a testament to that having put so many tough losses behind him to reach this point. Nadal started as the heavy favourite for Sunday’s final, and rightly so given his ability. The tag of favourite can count for very little though, as Juan Martin del Potro demonstrated when he won the US Open in 2009 against Federer.
Wawrinka has now become just the second man in the last five years from outside the ‘big four’ to win a Grand Slam. He can now certainly upgrade his status from ‘also ran’ to ‘contender’ amongst the tennis fraternity.