Stanislas Wawrinka has qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time in his career. Here is how he did it.
Grand Slam Results
Australian Open: 4R
French Open: QF
US Open: SF
Oeiras 250 (Clay)
2013 has shaped up to be the best season in the career of Stanislas Wawrinka (Player Profile). Although as of yet, he has failed to overtaken Roger Federer as Swiss No.1 despite the opportunity to do so opening up but he found himself in the top 8 players in the world for the first time as well as achieving his best slam performance so far.
An early exit in Chennai (although he did pick up the doubles title with good friend Benoit Paire) wasn’t ideal going into the first slam of the year but you would have found it tough to tell given the extent to which he troubled eventual winner Novak Djokovic. A set and a break lead was soon erased but the Swiss would take it deep into the fifth set. After he declined to challenge an incorrect call on break point at 4-4 which could have seen him serve for the match, he would eventually be defeated 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7(5) 12-10 by the Serbian. Despite losing, the display of shotmaking showed he was able to trouble the elite, at least on hard courts.
He really came into his own on the clay, making three finals although losses to Tommy Robredo and Fabio Fognini in Casablanca and Acapulco were disappointing set backs. Wawrinka and Ferrer met each other twice on the clay with the Spaniard striking the first blow with a three set victory in Buenos Aires but Wawrinka ensured his revenge in Portugal, picking up his only title of the year in Portugal with a 6-1 6-4 victory.
He took the momentum into Madrid and made the final defeating two other top 10 players on the way in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych but would be swept aside by Rafael Nadal in the final. Having lost all seventeen sets in the eight matches they have played, very little changed as Nadal won 6-2 6-4 and Wawrinka suffered a similar fate in Paris.
He and Richard Gasquet put on one of the matches of the tournament in the fourth round of the French Open, with Wawrinka coming from two sets down to book a quarter final meeting with the seven times champion. Nadal broke seven times on his way to a 6-2 6-3 6-1 win, making it 20 sets in a row.
On the grass, Wawrinka made his fourth final of the year but would be on the losing side once more. From qualifying, Nicolas Mahut would win the first title of his career with a straight sets victory. Having never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon, the Swiss has always underperformed on the grass. This time round, he was a first round loser with former winner Lleyton Hewitt sending Wawrinka out of the tournament with a 6-4 7-5 6-3 win.
Between Wimbledon and the US Open, he went just 2-3 with poor performances in Gstaad, Montreal and Cincinnati but he came back in some style at Flushing Meadows almost navigating an exceptionally tough route to the final. Some outstanding tennis helped him to back to back wins over Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray – the latter without even facing a break points against arguably the best returner in the game. Once more though, it would be Novak Djokovic that saw off the Swiss.
Having taken a two sets to one lead, Wawrinka ran out of gas in the fifth. Despite coming through a mammoth twenty minute game – one of the highlights of the tournament – the Serbian would finally come through and earn the vital break to take the match and make the final once more.
Post-US Open, there has been little to shout about. He lost to Nadal for the 11th straight time in Shanghai while losing to Edouard Roger Vasselin in his home tournament of Basel. Despite this, he would finally secure qualification to London this week with a quarter final place after Milos Raonic’s loss to Tomas Berdych.
Twice pushing Novak Djokovic to the edge in slams and dismantling Andy Murray has shown Wawrinka’s potential and it is hard to believe that he has won just four titles at the age of 28. It seems no surprise that his rise has coincided with Roger Federer’s slow decline. Living in the shadows of his more illustrious countryman appears to be something that did not suit him and next year should finally see him become Swiss No.1 unless Federer produces a comeback similar to that of 2012.