Wawrinka: ‘The Tournament Was Great For Me’

Former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka was two holds away from taking a two-sets-to-one lead against 2009 champion Roger Federer on Tuesday in the Roland Garros quarter-finals. All the momentum was on his side as he pursued a fourth semi-final in Paris in five years.

But the chiseled Swiss’ train came to a screeching halt, Federer advancing in four sets to end his 34-year-old friend’s run. But Wawrinka is keeping his head held high.

“I’m more positive than sad or disappointed with the result, because I know everything I have done to come back to that level,” Wawrinka said. “I know also how I left here last year when I was down in the [ATP] Rankings, like, 260 or something. I’m going to be back in the Top 20. For me, I’m happy with that.

“I think it showed that I have done the right things, and I’m happy to keep working and keep playing some big matches.”

In August 2017, Wawrinka underwent two knee surgeries. Although he returned last January, it didn’t last, as he sat out another three months to fully recover. Even upon his return, Wawrinka lost two out of his first three matches back and then fell in the first round at Roland Garros. Last June, Wawrinka fell as low as No. 263 in the world.

‘Stan the Man’, the 2015 champion, reached his second Roland Garros final in 2017. In his six majors after that, he won a total of five matches. But Wawrinka has found his best form again, and he’ll be rewarded when he climbs to No. 19 in next Monday’s ATP Rankings.

“In general the tournament was great for me. I played really good since the beginning of the tournament, won some big matches, especially against [Cristian] Garin, played super-well against [Grigor] Dimitrov, a tough match over two days, followed by [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, who is really confident, playing well this year. [It was a] big battle, five hours,” Wawrinka said. “I was super happy also to be ready physically after all that time on the court. Today to give another big battle against Roger was a tough, tough one for sure. But I think in general it was a good battle, a great battle.”

Perhaps what was most impressive was that Wawrinka played his best tennis under the most pressure, saving 16 of the 18 break points he faced. It wasn’t that Federer was getting tight in those moments, but Wawrinka was taking the racquet out of the 37-year-old’s hands with his powerful groundstrokes.

But it wasn’t just Wawrinka’s performance against Federer that was impressive. In the second round, he lost just five games against red-hot Cristian Garin, who started the tournament with the second-most clay-court wins on the ATP Tour this year. Then, he battled past 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov in a match that came down to three tie-breaks. And then, despite arguably being outplayed by World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round, Wawrinka found a way to win in five hours and nine minutes.

“Maybe I confirmed to you guys that I can still beat some top guys. But as I said before, I know where my level is. I know what I have done to come back to that level physically,” Wawrinka said. “For me, what is the most positive thing is what happened physically, also, to have played three days in a row with five hours, my longest match in my career, and still be able to play great tennis today, more than three hours.

“This is really good for the future. This shows me that I have done the right things. Again, today it was a tough match. I lost it against the best player ever to play this sport.”

Did You Know?
Wawrinka will try to maintain his momentum during the grass-court season, and he plans to compete in Stuttgart, at Queen’s Club and Wimbledon.

“As after each Grand Slam, I’m going to take stock tomorrow with my team to see what are the best plans to get ready for grass,” Wawrinka said. “But usually you get from clay to grass very quickly. You do not have many options.”

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