Wawrinka Success Testament to Hard Work
If you were to look up Stanislas Wawrinka on Wikipedia and scroll down to the "Playing Style" section you'd notice that, according to whoever wrote this entry, the Swiss star's biggest fault is his lack of mental toughness. Having watched him win the Australian Open this week, I believe this line should now be scratched and never entered again.
The 28-year-old has, in the past year, shown facets to his game we did not think he had, hanging with and bettering those who had been considered all-round better players by fans of live tennis online. His stunning victory over Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals was the culmination of years of hard work, the majority of which did not look as though it had paid off.
At the 2012 Australian Open, Wawrinka was dumped out of the tournament in the third round by Nicholas Almagro and was considered as nothing more than "the other Swiss tennis player". His remarkable rise shows he is way more than that.
Despite making it to consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals the Olympic double's gold medallist is continually written off by tennis betting pundits. Minutes after his semi-final triumph over Tomas Berdych his stats when facing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were dragged up, as if to dismiss him as a genuine title contender.
He may never have beaten Rafael Nadal but that record no longer matters. Warwinka had lost 14 out of 14 to Djokovic before this week but has now set that record straight as well.
What has gone on before should count for very little when you step out on court, and Wawrinka is a testament to that having put so many tough losses behind him to reach this point. Nadal started as the heavy favourite for Sunday's final, and rightly so given his ability. The tag of favourite can count for very little though, as Juan Martin del Potro demonstrated when he won the US Open in 2009 against Federer.
Wawrinka has now become just the second man in the last five years from outside the "big four" to win a Grand Slam. He can now certainly upgrade his status from "also ran" to "contender" amongst the tennis fraternity.
ATP Wrap Up: Brisbane, Chennai and Doha
By Mike McIntyre
It was more of the same for the start of the 2014 season on the ATP World Tour. World number one Rafael Nadal hoisted the trophy in Doha continuing his impressive return to the game following an eight month injury break that lasted from June of 2012 until February of 2013. In the 18 tournaments he has played since then, Rafa has won an astounding 11 and lost in the finals of 4 others.
In Doha, Nadal overcame his 2012 Wimbledon nemesis Lukas Rosol in the opening round, defeated a tricky Ernests Gulbis in the third round, survived a stiff challenge from Peter Gojowczyk in the semis and then finally toppled Gael Monfils in the finals, a guy who has historically had his number in this early season tournament. Nadal is simply en fuego and not likely to let-up anytime soon. The favourite at the Australian Open - you bet.
You can count world number three and four, David Ferrer and Andy Murray amongst those who found Doha to be a disappointment to the start of their seasons. Ferrer lost in the second round to German Daniel Brands while Murray also fell in his second match against another German, Florian Mayer. Ferrer should rebound quickly enough but I am a bit concerned for Murray as he recovers from back surgery late in 2013.
Gotta give the German contingent credit for their performance in Doha. Four of them made it to the quarter-finals and the rise of the previously (relatively) unknown Gojowczyk was something to see. It reminded me of the emergence of Jerzy Janowicz in Paris in 2012 or Federico Delbonis in Hamburg last summer. We'll have to wait and see if he can continue his early season success but so far he is the surprise player on the ATP Tour in 2014.
In Brisbane, Roger Federer made his first ever appearance at the event and did not disappoint by making it all the way to the finals. Still, Federer did not leave with the trophy at the level 250 event which must be largely viewed as a let-down. No Nadal, Djokovic or Murray to contend with and yet he could not secure the title.
In fairness, let's give credit to Aussie Lleyton Hewitt who was able to win his first trophy since 2010 and the 29th tourney win of his career. I can only imagine how satisfying this must be for Hewitt to do in front of his home fans and against arguably the greatest player of all-time. Could it be the last title of Hewitt's career? Not if he keeps playing this way. When you look at what 35 year old Tommy Haas has been able to do the past couple of years, there's no reason to think Hewitt can't be a level 250 and 500 contender for a little while longer.
In Chennai, Stan Wawrinka continued his string of success where he won the title for the second time in his career and in his third final there. For the second year in-a-row Wawrinka is the first Swiss player on the ATP World Tour to capture a title. Who would have thought that day would ever come? He has quietly established himself as a bona-fide top-ten player and when we talk about the next player not named Nadal, Djokovic, Murray or Federer to win a Slam, Wawrinka's name must now be mentioned as a viable option.
One more week until the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne. Keep checking back with us at ProTennisFan as we will take a look at this week's tournaments in Sydney and Auckland.
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Federer Releases 2014 Schedule
By Mike McIntyre
Roger Federer released his 2014 ATP World Tour schedule on Saturday which reveals the world number-six plans on entering sixteen tournaments this season. The total is the same as what he played a year ago, though with a couple of location changes.
Added to his travel itinerary in 2014 are Brisbane, Miami and Toronto while he has ditched the events in Rotterdam, Hamburg and Gstaad.
Federer has made a few adjustments in the off-season in the hopes of climbing back towards the top-four in the rankings, thus giving himself a better chance to add at least one more Grand Slam to his incredible total which currently stands at seventeen majors.
Former world number-one and six-time Grand Slam champion Stefan Edberg is now a part of Federer's coaching team. Edberg will join Federer for the Australian Open which begins January 13th as well as at least eight other weeks of tennis on the ATP circuit this year.
What will Edberg be able to bring to Federer's game that we haven't seen before? Perhaps nothing tactical but rather a fresh mental perspective and a calmness that the Sweded carried with him throughout his fifteen years on the professional tour.
In the following clip, Federer talks about the process of uniting with Stefan Edberg for the 2014 season and is clearly excited to work with his self-professed childhood idol.
Federer also reveals some of the problems he experienced in 2013 and shares his positive outlook on the year ahead.
Another change for Federer is going to be a renewed attempt at using a 98 square-inch frame from Wilson as he briefly dabbled with last summer before switching back to his old faithful one of 90 square-inches. Federer says he has felt confident after two and a half weeks using the larger frame and only time will tell if this is a permanent change or just another experiment to jump-start his once invincible game.
Federer kicks-off his season in Brisbane where he is appearing for the very first time in his professional career.