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All in Stan’s head: A Stanislas Wawrinka Special

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Rare achievement of winning a major after 30? He’s done it.
Defeating Novak Djokovic in at least 3 majors? He’s done it.
Defeating the top seeded one to win the finals of majors he’s won? He’s done it.
Inconsistency? Well, Stan Wawrinka pretty much is it.

The first thing that would come to one’s mind on hearing the name, Wawrinka would be – monstrous backhands. Followed by, inconsistence, which pretty much, sums up The Man of ATP tour. He can lose to an apparent nobody, ranked outside top 100, and the very next week, he can wreak havoc and accomplish something unreal. Stan was never really a big fan of following the script. Instead, it was he who wrote the script, doing whatever he wanted, however he wanted not caring too much about the outcome. His first ATP title was Umag in 2006 when he was a budding star of 21. And then came the infamous inconsistency – he broke top 10 without winning anything again and won his second ATP title in 2010 Casablanca Open. Stan drifted away from the A-list of ATP tour soon after and it wasn’t until the inclusion of his current coach Magnus Norman in 2013, that he became a celebrated star on tour.

Magnus Norman: The Man Who Unleashed Stanimal

Norman has been eminently credited for Wawrinka’s upsurge and why wouldn’t he be? Stan was a very good player who couldn’t consistently challenge the top guns because of his vulnerability, in the pre-Norman part of his career. As a matter of fact, following his 3rd round victory at Wimbledon 2009 against Jesse Levine, The Sunday Times reviewed him as, “a strange player, clearly talented but short of match fitness and as clumsy on court as Federer is graceful.”And ever since Norman’s inclusion, a monster had been unleashed, nicknamed Stanimal, who usually peaks just at the right moment against the right opponent. Stan doesn’t suffer for his weak nerves anymore, instead, in big matches; he’s the one who can incorporate fear amongst his opponents.

Stan Wawrinka, Australian Open, 2015, Tennis, Sportwalk
© Photograph from Visit Victoria

Well, Stan isn’t clumsy one anymore; instead, he is monstrous with a gargantuan appetite for destruction whenever he walks out on court. He is versatile. He’s not a one-court-bully. With a heavy serve and massive groundstrokes, he has slowly but steadily become one of ATP’s biggest stars. His single-handed backhands are considered one of the best and most powerful shots in the history of the sport. Adding to that, Stan has a wicked volley which becomes the deciding factor for a lot of points. His offensive baseline tennis complements his tactful game and thus makes him a successful player on clay and hard courts. Moreover, fatigue or injuries haven’t been had too much of say in his career, off late.

Prior to the U.S. Open 2016, Wawrinka was a 3rd seed only due to the rolling rankings. In reality, he was expected to bow out as early as Round of 16, potentially to rising Aussie star Nick Kyrgios, given he doesn’t lose to hard-hitting Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the 1st round itself. Ever since his French Open win in 2015, his career graph hasn’t had any kind of upsurge whatsoever; 2016 was horrifying. He barely managed to stay in the top 8 of the race rankings before US Open began. Playing all year, he went 0-3 against top 10 players. It’s not that worrying that he lost all three matches played against top 10 players, what’s alarming was that he faced only 3 top 10 players despite being a prominent member of the top 10 himself. Milos Raonic’s rise to fame, Andy Murray’s comeback to form, Novak Djokovic’s iron will, all this led to Stan not being a potential favorite for the title, not for the pundits, not for the fans, not for anybody. And yet he won, against all odds — defeating an in-form Del Potro and 2 top 10 players including defending champion and the World Number One, Novak Djokovic.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Stan’s mantra for success has been the same. He has been a failure no matter how much he has tried, always staying in the shadows of fellow Swiss legend, Roger Federer and then, he has tried again, instead of giving up. And he’s tasted success. And one could guess how sweet that must be.

The Big 4 and Stan Wawrinka

Djokovic, following his loss to Wawrinka, stated that there shouldn’t be a big 4 anymore. Instead, it should be Big 5 with Stan being the latest inclusion. But wouldn’t it be kind of an injustice to Stan’s act of standing out in the crowd? He’s always been a one-off character in men’s tennis – one who is not a mainstream star but, goes opposite to the flow. And considering all of that and more, Big 4 and Stan would be the more appropriate term to include in that tennis diction.

Now coming back to point, Stan is marvelously consistent with his inconsistency— fails to show up his true self on tour, yet, reaches his best almost immediately when the time comes. Rafael Nadal knows it; Novak Djokovic probably loathes it. Or maybe it’s deliberate? Who knows? He is Stanislas Wawrinka after all, someone who doesn’t follow scripts. He can prepare for some giant killing silently, and no one would guess, such that he can hurl the weapon when everybody is least aware. Do not bet against him if he prefers to lay low for the rest of the season and for the first half of the next season, because he’s probably fooling you; he might just erupt just in time for a coveted Wimbledon trophy to complete his career slam. They say never bet on a gray horse, we say, never bet on Stan Wawrinka.