Wawrinka: 'He's Just Amazing'
You might expect Stan Wawrinka to feel frustrated, maybe even upset. Here he is, 31 years old, tennis' retirement age decades ago, and still playing some of the best tennis of his life. On Sunday, Wawrinka played in his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title match in Indian Wells.
Yet his friend and older countryman Roger Federer, who at 35, is four years older, is still finding ways to one-up Wawrinka for the game's biggest trophies. On Sunday, Federer beat Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 in the BNP Paribas Open final. Wawrinka, though, said he bears no angst against his long-time friend.
“No. From that side, I think it's more positive. That means you can still play your best tennis at that age. So it's something you can learn from, especially for me,” said Wawrinka, who turns 32 a week from Tuesday. “He's just amazing. The way he's playing is just so beautiful, it's just so nice. Everything looks perfect. He's moving amazingly well. He has amazing touch. He's doing everything you can do on the tennis court.”
Just because Wawrinka can effuse positives about his countryman, though, doesn't mean he's satisified with the defeat. The Lausanne native fell to 3-20 against Federer in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and 0-15 on hard courts.
“He's still a tough player to play for me, for my game, because he's playing quick. He makes you feel uncomfortable and he mixes it up a lot... It's always challenging,” Wawrinka said.
But the final loss still marks a great accomplishment for Wawrinka. Years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find someone who would have thought the 6-foot right-hander would meet Federer in a Masters 1000 final. As recently as 2012, Wawrinka's Emirates ATP Ranking still sat outside the Top 20. That same year, Federer hauled home three Masters 1000 titles.
“I think to play a final against him in a Masters 1000 is something amazing for me. I wouldn't have dreamed that a few years ago and now it's the second we have played,” said Wawrinka, referring to their 2014 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final. “I won the first one. I lost today. For sure I'm disappointed, but it's still a great week for me.”
Wawrinka's previous best finish in the desert had been the quarter-finals in 2008 (l. to Djokovic) and 2011 (l. to Federer). “I'm really happy to be in the final here in Indian Wells. It's still an amazing result for me,” Wawrinka said. “I always want more, and I'm going to try to do everything possible to be the winner next time, but I need to take what's positive. That's what I'm going to do for the next few weeks.”