CHINA OPEN 2013
Wawrinka On The Cusp
by ATP Staff|
Should Stanislas Wawrinka qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals it would be the culmination of a tremendous season for the Swiss. Coming off his first major semi-final at the US Open, Wawrinka is through to the second round on his debut at the China Open, where he hopes to make a push in the Emirates ATP Race To London.
“I’m in a good position,” Wawrinka told ATPWorldTour.com in Beijing on Wednesday. “I’m eighth in the [Emirates ATP Race To London]. But there’s a lot of tennis to play. There’s still a lot of points to take. I’m not thinking about that. I need to really focus on my tennis and my game, because the only thing I can really control is my game and how I practise and get ready for the tournament. That’s the most important thing for me.
“It’s a dream for tennis players to finish in the Top 8 and to play the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the end of the year,” continued Wawrinka, who is looking to qualify for the first time. “It’s something big, something amazing, and it would be amazing for me.”
Wawrinka laid down an early marker in 2013 when he played a memorable fourth-round match with Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, losing 12-10 in the fifth set. The pair clashed again nine months later in the US Open semi-finals, after Wawrinka had beaten Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray. Wawrinka led by two-sets-to-one, but Djokovic ultimately prevailed in five.
“It was a tough draw for me to get into the US Open semi-finals,” remembered Wawrinka. “But I played my best tournament for sure. It was my first Grand Slam semi-final and it showed that my level, when I’m there, can be really strong. I can play with the top players in the world and I hope I will have some chances to do it again. I know it will be really difficult, but I’m fighting every day for that.
“I feel I can challenge the Top 5, for sure, in tournaments. But I don’t know if I can challenge them all through the year. That would be a big challenge for me. I really need to be focussed on the end of the year, but then I need to see what is going to be my goal next year. I’m sure I can challenge them in one or two tournaments, but to be there all year with them… They’ve been so strong for so many years, it will be really tough.”
For Wawrinka it has been a mixture of maturity, confidence and Magnus Norman that has made the difference.
The 28 year old began working with former World No. 2 Norman in April, and in their first tournament together, he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Berdych to reach the final at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Madrid, finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal. One month later, Wawrinka reached his first Roland Garros quarter-final, having edged Richard Gasquet 8-6 in the fifth set in the fourth round.
“I think experience helps,” said Wawrinka. “For me, I’m more mature. It’s a good time for me to play my best game. If you see the generation now, we’re all 28, 30 or 25. We don’t have so many young players. We’ve been here almost 10 years!
“[Norman] is a great coach, that’s for sure. He’s helped me a lot with my game on the practice side and a lot mentally too. He finds a way to give me a lot of confidence and as you could see in New York, I was feeling good on the court and really relaxed.
“He showed me a few things and pushed me a little bit more a couple of times. It’s a few different things, it’s not a big change, but a few things can make a difference at that level.”