Stanislas Wawrinka is a 28-year-old Swiss professional tennis player by whom everyone has been intrigued. He became an icon since he reached his first ever Grand Slam final at the Australian Open 2014, competing against the mighty world number one player, Rafael Nadal, and surprisingly dispatching him to jump to a career-high third in the world rankings. This turn of events has made history for Wawrinka, who has been among the world’s top 50 tennis players since 2002.
The young man had not even been dreaming of this moment until he had beaten Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Facing Djokovic was not an easy task for Wawrinka, who had lost five epic sets against him in both the U.S. Open 2013 and Australia Open 2013. For this reason, the quarterfinals victory of the Australian Open 2014 rendered him great confidence and strength. He had strong faith in winning his first Grand Slam title. In an interview before the final match, Wawrinka said, “I’m playing my best tennis here. Physically I’m ready.” He added that the most important thing for an athelete is to keep trying until he reaches his goal.
The apparent change in Wawrinka’s performance is remarkable. Wawrinka has competed against Nadal at least twelve times before, yet he has not won a single set in any of the matches they played. At Wimbledon 2009, Wawrinka defeated Jesse Levine in the third round.
On the contrary, the Australian Open 2014 tournament witnessed the birth of a miraculous, tough, persevering tennis player for whom the sky is the limit. He has become a combination of Nadal, the fighter, and Federer, the best server.
Wawrinka’s serve is just right. He plays it aggressively, but surely. He was known to have played a total of nearly seventy aces in the Australian Open 2014 Grand Slam, not to mention his impressive one-handed backhand, which is rarely found, to be as strong and focused. He is considered capable of playing well on most surfaces, particularly on clay and hard surfaces. Although he has been known to have some deficiencies with his mental strength on court, it happened to improve throughout the last tournament. It was quite clear in the finals that he had exerted the utmost effort to improve his state of mind.
There are two secret ingredients of Wawrinka’s success and best performances. First, his outstanding new coach, Magnus Norman, who gets a lot of credit for the player’s immensely improved performance. Second, the fact that he has never stopped trying. He has never lost hope in becoming one of the world most elite tennis players. He has also been inspired by the quote from Samuel Beckett, which is tattooed on his forearm. The quote says if a person ever fails, he or she should always keep trying hard, even if all the effort exerted would create a better failure rather than a success. He believed this was his philosophy in life. He may have doubted if he would win a Grand Slam, but deep inside him he was always close to it.
By Mona Salman