Ahead of Stan's match against Andy Murray, it's interesting to read an article published on The Scotsman.
Next up for Murray: the other Swiss Olympic gold medallist
Published Date: 28 June 2009
By Alix Ramsay at Wimbledon
IT IS strange how, in a competition of 128 men, the absence of one player can make such a difference. When Rafael Nadal pulled out of the tournament, the whole of the top half of the draw opened up. Without the world No.1 to shatter their dreams, everyone fancied their chances.
The feel-good factor has trickled down to even the lowliest ranked chap and yesterday even Jesse Levine, the world No.133 and a wild card entry here, thought that a place in the second week was his for the taking. Stanislas Wawrinka disabused him of that notion 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 but he had to do an awful lot of running to get the job done.
The Swiss will be Andy Murray's next opponent and is through to the fourth round here for the second year running although that is usually his limit at any grand slam event on any surface. No matter, Wawrinka is one of life's triers and, with a level-headed approach to life, he is neither excited by the prospect of reaching his first quarter-final nor is he overawed.
Murray and Wawrinka have been doing battle since the Scot first appeared on the main tour and, overall, Murray just leads their rivalry with four wins to three. But last year they ran into each other with monotonous regularity. Five times in nine months they locked horns and, save for one loss on clay in Rome, Murray won the lot.
Not only is there mutual respect between the two men, they are also friends. Wawrinka is just the sort of man that Murray likes: a straightforward, down-to-earth guy who may not be the most talented player on the circuit but he works his socks off to make the most of what he has got. And it is that work ethic that elevated the Swiss from being a top 30 regular at the start of last year to breaking into the top ten last May and keeping him there until late into the autumn. Now ranked No.18, he has the experience of playing the top men on the biggest courts and he knows he has what it takes to beat some of them, too.
There is nothing flashy about the Swiss No.2. He is not one for extravagant spending, extravagant partying or extravagant indulgence. His only one claim to anything approaching a celebrity lifestyle is having a television commentator, who just happens to be ten years his senior, for a girlfriend.
His game is pretty much the same as the rest of his life – uncomplicated and unspectacular. His main line of attack is power: a good first serve and crunching weight behind his ground strokes on both flanks. The slight flaw in this plan is that it is his only plan – when things start to go wrong, Wawrinka has nothing to fall back on. When everything is in good working order, he has the strength and the ability to barge through to the latter rounds of any tournament but once there, he comes unstuck. Tackling the real elite remains difficult.
He can push the Federers, the Nadals and the Djokovics, but getting the better of them seems beyond him. He did beat Federer in Monte Carlo this year but that was only Federer's second match on clay of the season and it was just a few days after he had married his long-time girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec. Federer, then, was just a mite distracted.
If Wawrinka has a secret weapon, it is his ability to rise to the occasion. At the Beijing Olympics last summer, his form had deserted him and he played poorly in the singles before teaming up with Federer to play just as poorly in the doubles for the first couple of rounds.
But then, on the same day that Federer had been beaten by James Blake in the singles and appeared to be in the depths of despair, he and Wawrinka were called at midnight to play Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes. And it was Wawrinka who carried the match, dragging Federer through the two sets and on to the semi-finals. There it was Wawrinka again who provided the backbone of the team as they headed to the final and on to the gold medal. Federer's bizarre post-match celebration in which he seemed to be drawing energy from his friend, acknowledged the fact that, for that week in the doubles, Stan was indeed the man.
Whether Wawrinka can find that fighting spirit again remains to be seen. In Beijing, he had one of the greatest players the sport has ever seen by his side to help him but, then again, this week the world No.1 is not standing in his way.