Monday, January 27, 2014
Stani Wawrinka : Daddy’s Coming Home With A Grand Slam Title
Stanislas Wawrinka is the 2014 Australian Open champion, which is something that was unlikely to be uttered before the tournament or even at the start of the fourth round.
The whole Rafael Nadal was injured in the final narrative as some individuals or media organisations will portray as a way to diminish Wawrinka’s achievement. To those people, please go find the corner in the round room or chase some parked cars. Nadal played the match out, if his problems were that serious then he’d have retired the match.
Players and humans achieve maturity at different stages. Wawrinka had always been a good shotmaker, from both sides especially on the backhand side which has always been the best backhand in Switzerland. The forehand side while weaker isn’t such a liability, the areas where he struggled where his consistency, defensive skills and mentally believing he could beat the best players.
Dimi Zavialoff is someone who has been forgotten about in the Wawrinka triumph. If it wasn’t for him working with Stani for 17 years starting at the age of 8, travelling with him on tour until just before the US Open in 2010. This was the epitome of long term coaching relationship, giving him the tools to succeed on the professional tour and travelling with him in the early years.
They reached a point where Zavialoff couldn’t take him further as a player to maximise Wawrinka’s potential and parted ways. Peter Lundgren worked with him before moving onto another Swede who is his current mentor and former world number 2 Magnus Norman. It was since hooking up with Norman that Wawrinka’s rise has started where he matured as a player, improved his defensive skills, he has always been a strong lad but his movement has improved.
Wawrinka and friends
There were a few nemeses’ that needed to be conquered before Stani could enjoy this wonderful moment. First of them was the tough as $2 steak Tommy Robredo. Before the 4th round match Wawrinka was down 1-6 in their meetings. Robredo is the kind of player that frustrates Stani, in that he defends so well and is solid from the baseline. In previous times Wawrinka while he could through Robredo was never patient enough to work the opportunities in his favour and would get angry. On this occasion he was able to hold it together, believed in what he was doing before meeting his bete noir Djokovic.
Last year Wawrinka lost two tough 5 setters to Djokovic, the one in Melbourne was memorable being up a set and 5-2, yet losing that second set and 12-10 in the 5th. It’s said as a player you learn more about yourself in defeat & how they respond. Wawrinka responded positively and this time Djokovic couldn’t escape the clutches. He was down 2-15 in their meetings with one being a retirement. Maybe, this was a sign of things to come.
Wawrinka is a well liked and respected character among his peers. His parents run an organic farm outside of Lausanne, in addition they look after disabled people as well. The rural background and seeing individuals who are less fortunate in close quarters have shaped his attitude
After Djokovic’s defeat he was glowing in his praise for Stani, which wasn’t fake unlike some other statements and actions. They’ve had 3 big battles in Slams and will be at it again this weekend in Davis Cup.
The semi final against Berdych wasn’t really a good match per se, but it was such a big opportunity for both players to make a Slam final which inhibited their play. That’s the beauty of tennis don’t have to play well, just be better on the day.
One of my more positive friends said Norman was the coach at the time of Robin Söderling when he was 0-12 against Federer before defeating him at Roland Garros. He used the same analogy to say Wawrinka is going to beat Nadal. No, I didn’t believe him but should have.
At the start of the match Wawrinka was calm staying in the moment, not letting the occasion get the better of him which is the norm for first time Grand Slam finalists. One, never knows how often these opportunities to come around especially in an area of homogenised surfaces where there is little diversity in gamestyles.
Tactically Norman gave Wawrinka a brilliant plan which he executed to a tee for the first set and a bit. Instead of just trying to hit to Nadal’s backhand he spread the court effectively hitting to the forehand side to open up the backhand side. Yes, Wawrinka was being aggressive but not in total brainless ballbashing mode where there is just bit hitting with no purpose.
Nadal for all his greatness as a player is definitely world class when it comes to gamesmanship. Some members of the crowd booed him when he took a medical timeout to get his back looked at. As whether he should have been booed or not, that’s debatable. Fans pay their money so they should be able to cheer or boo who they like, as long as there isn’t violence or inappropriate comments towards the players.
It was very difficult for Wawrinka to handle this situation, especially as he’s a sensitive soul. Have to play an ailing opponent as there isn’t anything wrong with them guys like Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Thomas Muster, Jim Courier among others would have been ruthless. The time for compassion is off the court not on it, have to play it hard but fair.
Wawrinka stopped playing the way that was successful wasn’t able to move him around. He doesn’t have the game to be really nasty side to side, dropshot, lob, then repeat that’s the way to see if someone has a back problem.
Thankfully Stani was able to win the match in 4 sets and at the second time of asking served it out in style. If Wawrinka managed to lose a match like that, then easily the psychological blow could have impacted on the rest of his career.
Wawrinka has always been in the shadow of his friend and countryman Roger Federer. Finally he will get the credit he deserves as he was known “for many people I’m the Swiss guy that loses”. Really hope that mentality has been eliminated from most people. Defeating Djokovic and Nadal in the same Slam is something that deserves to be lauded.
Too bad there won’t be a tennis boom in Switzerland though they have two players the youngsters at Biel could learn a lot from. Is this a changing of the guard in men’s tennis? Unsure about that, but it’s good for tennis fans not player fans that someone different has won one of the Slams.
As children say things better Alexia will be happy when daddy comes home this time as a Grand Slam champion.
Posted by Sigurd Sigurdsson at 9:04 am