Stan Wawrinka is on the comeback trail. The 35-year-old Swiss #2 has had a fair share of injuries. Most recently back in 2017.
In the semifinal of Roland Garros that year, Wawrinka was facing the runner up from the previous year, Andy Murray. The Brit and Swiss pushed each other hard for five sets, with Wawrinka coming out on top. However, it cost both players dearly.
For the Brit, it was the start of his hip problems. Murray eventually had to undergo the same resurfacing operation that Bob Bryan had. At the time there was speculation that this would end his career.
Wawrinka on the other hand, injured his knee in the very same match. He confirmed the injury after losing in the first round at Wimbledon the very same year. You could say that they broke each other. It has been a long road back for both players.
Both have had operations, and both have attempted their comeback. They have met twice since. At the end of 2019 the Brit got the better of the encounter, claiming the title in Antwerp–Murray’s first ATP title singles title since his resurfacing operation.
These are not the only similarities between the pair. Both have won three Grand Slams. The Brit has won the US Open in 2012 and then the big one (for Brits anyway), Wimbledon, twice, in 2013 and 2016. Wawrinka has won the Australian Open, French Open, and US Open. Neither has completed the career Grand Slam.
Event wise, that is really where the comparison ends. The Swiss has only managed to win one Masters 1000 event, whereas the Brit has 14. Murray has two singles Gold Medals; Wawrinka also has a Gold medal, but in doubles.
The comeback trails have been difficult for both. However, Wawrinka has had the much better season so far (albeit every one has had a strange season due to the pandemic). This is born by the rankings where Wawrinka currently sits just inside the Top 20 at #18. Murray is way down the ranking list, outside the Top 100 at #116.
Does Stan Wawrinka have another Slam in him?
Wawrinka is not yet back to his pre-injury levels, as the Swiss reached the heights of #3 in the world. And age is starting to go against him, as is his body. The question has to be asked if the Swiss #2 can regain those moments and compete again for Slams.
The short answer is, no one can say for sure. His compatriot Roger Federer is older, and has also had knee surgery, but is aiming to come back in time for the Australian Open.–one of his best tournaments (behind Wimbledon, which Federer has won eight times).
Age should not be taken as too much of a variable. Federer and Serena Williams have shown that this is not a barrier to winning titles. With new players starting to emerge, is the old guard changing, or will Wawrinka be able to claim another grand slam title.
If Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal can still all claim Grand Slams, there is no reason that Wawrinka can’t, although he would have to overcome the other three to do so.
Main Photo from Getty.