When tennis fans talk frequently about the possible candidates to go all the way at the French Open, there is usually a host of players that can potentially take the crown on the WTA side, but only a few ATP players that are truly tipped to go on and achieve great things at a Major.
That is possibly because the number of players that have been able to break the Big 4’s grip on Major titles has been really restricted over the years, with 47 of the last 56 Major champions coming from one of the four legends of the sport: Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal. (Another three belong to Andy Murray). The only other to win multiple Majors in this decade of dominance is a certain Swiss man by the name of Stan Wawrinka.
Breakthrough for Wawrinka
Wawrinka was the player that was always the bridesmaid but never the bride. He regularly found himself as a consistent Top-20 player before he really changed into one of the most destructive and ruthless tennis players on tour, in terms of the explosiveness of his game. In just four of the last 21 Grand Slams, a player outside of the Big 4 has won a Major title. Wawrinka has won three of those four Majors in question. What I really would like to debate is whether the Swiss man should still be considered a big contender for the big trophies. Or is he no longer in that conversation?
In the last six years in particular, Wawrinka has risen to the big occasion. He has not necessarily always been able to find the rhythm and the baseline control in a lot of the smaller events, but he has upped his game substantially when the Major tournaments come around, and he evolved into a player that the big guys just did not want to draw on a regular basis. That is partly due to the fact that Wawrinka has the power to take the match away from you beyond your control, but largely because Wawrinka had solved the mental puzzle of winning Major titles. That completely changed the way Wawrinka viewed himself, but also his counterparts when preparing for matches against him.
Wawrinka has unfortunately been through a lot since making the French Open final in 2017. He appeared in 50 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments before missing the 2017 US Open tournament with injury and has since undergone two surgeries on his knee. The good thing about Wawrinkais that he has the ability to flip a switch and turn things on during a Grand Slam. However, he hasn’t made it past a third round of a Major since his time off with injury.
The Swiss man has definitely made some considerable steps forward this season. Most notably, he made the final of the tournament in Rotterdam. But there is still a lot to be done until he can safely say he’s back to where he wants to be, if he does ever reach those heights again. The return of serve has been a big issue for Wawrinka. He seems unable to find an effective and consistent ploy with that shot. Also, managing matches in majors is a whole different obstacle compared to the best-of-three format at the regular tour events. Wawrinka used to be one of the very best at making his way through those obstacles and elevating his level when required. After another early exit in Geneva this week, though, Wawrinka still is far from being a Grand Slam contender again as of now.