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“I Can Go Far”: Wawrinka Embraces Underdog Role Ahead Of Roland Garros

Paris, France

Wawrinka© Getty ImagesStan Wawrinka enters Roland Garros as a Grand Slam champion for the first time.

Competing in his first major as a Grand Slam champion, Stan Wawrinka does not consider himself the favourite to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires.

The reigning Australian Open champion enters Roland Garros seeded third, and while his confidence has soared since his stunning triumph at Melbourne Park, as well as on the clay of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last month, the Swiss still believes he is flying under the radar in Paris.

“Mentally speaking I have more confidence,” said Wawrinka. “Mentally I know what it takes, what I have to do to be ready. I know I can have a good draw and go far and deep, but each match is a new challenge and you have to take them as they come.

“I'm far behind Rafa and Novak. They are really above the other players…It's reality. I'm one of the favourites, but I wouldn't say I'm the top favourite. As I always say, these players are outstanding, they're exceptional. But the difference is if I were to play against them, I know that when I'm on the court I can defeat them.

“I look at this Open differently. I had to adapt after Australia. When I'm here now, I know that I can go far. I have done that before. The way I look at it is quite different.”

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Wawrinka said he will be ready for the second Grand Slam of the year, dispelling concerns from a lingering back injury following early dismissals at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Madrid (l. to Thiem) and Rome (l. to Haas). “Physically I'm ready, and mentally also, so that's why I'm happy and I'm excited to start.”

The top Swiss, whose best result at Roland Garros came last year in reaching the quarter-finals (l. to Nadal), opens with recent Casablanca champion Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. A potential semi-final rematch with Nadal looms on the horizon, but Wawrinka is taking it one match at a time.

“I have played well. I won the Masters 1000 and a Grand Slam. I'm playing good tennis. I can win against all players. But the way I look at this Grand Slam is not different. I'm not looking where I am on the draw. It's the first match, the first round, that counts. Who I'm going to play against, that's how it starts.

“After winning a Grand Slam it was important for me to win a Masters 1000. It was something really difficult, but I did it in Monaco, in the first tournament on clay against Roger. It was even more special. For the confidence, it’s something big for me to know that I can beat the top guys on clay courts. And now I'm ready for here.”

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