Stanislas Wawrinka is a happy man. The Swiss No. 2 is in the first Grand Slam final of his 12 year professional career, where he will contest for the Australian Open title against top seeded Rafael Nadal on Sunday night. The world No. 8’s path to the Melbourne final included a shocking upset victory over defending champion Novak Djokovic in a five-set thriller that served as revenge for their encounter at this tournament last year.
“It was tough for me to put it as a goal to make the final in a Grand Slam,” explained Wawrinka, “especially with the players there, with Novak, with Rafa, with Roger, with Andy. In the past it was really difficult, so it wasn’t a goal. It was more like we knew I had the level to beat the top players, but to be in the final you have to do it again and again.
Despite his incredible career-defining 2013 season, reaching the final was not a planned scenario according to Wawrinka. The key approach was to perform at his best at each individual match, focusing only on the opponent across the net from him.
“I didn’t expect to make the final. I didn’t come here thinking, ‘Oh, maybe it will be amazing to make the final.’ For me, I was really far from that. I always tried to improve, I always tried to win every match, I always go on court to try to beat my opponent, and that’s what I did during the whole tournament here.”
Reaching the final was no easy task for Wawrinka, who has been chasing this dream for over a decade. It has taken the Swiss No. 2 36 Grand Slam appearances to reach a major final, which is the second most attempts in the Open Era. David Ferrer, who reached the French Open finals last year, has the most attempts at 42 Grand Slam.
Wawrinka will also officially become the new Swiss No. 1 on Monday, as he overtook his fellow countryman, Roger Federer, for the top spot by reaching the finals. Achieving this incredible feat is a testament to the 28-year-old’s confidence in himself and his ever-evolving game, as he believes he is currently playing the best tennis of his life.
“I’m taking confidence from my level in general. I know that I’m playing my best tennis. I’m moving well. I’m really aggressive. I’m serving well. I always find a solution. I will see. I will watch the match tomorrow and see how I’m going to play on Sunday.