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Wimbledon 2015: Novak Djokovic doesn't like me on court - he knows I'm only one who can bully him

INTERVIEW - Swiss star Stan Wawrinka tells Simon Briggs that he is the man to knock world No 1 Novak Djokovic off his perch

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/wimbledon/11702736/Wimbledon-2015-Novak-Djokovic-doesnt-like-me-on-court-he-knows-Im-only-one-who-can-bully-him.html

A photograph taken on Tuesday at Aorangi Park, the Wimbledon practice courts, shows Novak Djokovic narrating a story while his training partner Stan Wawrinka listens with a broad smile. Only a fortnight after their juddering collision in the French Open final, these two world-beaters remain on friendly terms, and hit together every time they go to the same tournament.

Yet there must also be an undercurrent to this relationship, for Wawrinka – who is slated to meet Djokovic in the Wimbledon semi-finals – has emerged as the only man with enough power to bully the world No 1. We know it, they both know it, and Wawrinka is not afraid to say so.

Entering the final in Paris, I was seeing Novak winning everything,” Wawrinka told The Daily Telegraph this week. “He didn’t lose a match on clay, he was the big favourite. But I still thought, ‘Play your game, he doesn’t like you, he doesn’t like the way you play your game, you’re the only player who can really push him back, who can really make him feel uncomfortable.’ And that’s what happened in the final. Little by little, already at the end of the first set, I started to be maybe 20cm in front [in my court position], and he started to be a little bit back, and little by little I was dictating. And for sure, it gave me a lot of confidence.”

In a tennis world that Djokovic’s coach Boris Becker recently lambasted for its “political correctness”, few would be so direct. Yet Wawrinka can always be relied upon to speak his mind. Now ranked at No 4 in the world, he travels without an entourage – “ I don’t need 10 people around me to protect me from you guys” – and has shown little interest in turning himself into a brand.

This is not to say that he turns down endorsements – only in the last few days, he has filmed a TV advert on behalf of Evian – but there remains something engagingly spontaneous about his recent success. His manager, Lawrence Frankopan, describes him as “the people’s champion, someone very approachable. People maybe see themselves in him”.

There is no tennis equivalent for the “village blacksmith” cliché so often applied to free-swinging batsmen in cricket. Yet that is the sort of mentality Wawrinka brings to the court, particularly when he is ripping his bone-crushing backhand. It is a spectacular sight, played with the flourish of a matador, and has arguably replaced Rafael Nadal’s forehand as the most feared groundstroke in the game.

When I practised with Novak, and hit my first backhand down the line, he said: ‘I saw it too many times,’” Wawrinka explains now. “I always try to practise with the ‘Big Four’ as much as I can, and have done for many years. Someone told me a few months ago that from the top-10 guys, I am the one who always practises with them. The others almost never. They asked me why. I don’t put myself as a rival with them. I respect them so much. I try to practise with them as much as I can because you can learn so much from the top guys, but I’m never: ‘I’m going to play you, what’s going to happen?’”

If tennis is a sport fired by rivalries, then Wawrinka-Djokovic can hardly claim to have been an instant hit. There was a seven-year spell, starting in 2007, when Wawrinka failed to win a single match. The worm only began to turn in January 2013, when a classic Australian Open semi-final saw Djokovic claw his way to a 12-10 win in the deciding set.

When I played Novak in 2013,” says Wawrinka now, “I had the click inside me that said, ‘OK, I might maybe one day beat him in a grand slam. I know I can do it, I have not only the game but I’m also ready mentally to do it. I could have mentally really gone down like other players did when they were so close. I took the other way. You have to forgive and say ‘I’m close. Now it’s time to keep working and give yourself the chance to be at the top from there.’

A few times I told myself ‘Maybe that’s it, maybe my best ranking is 2008, No  9 in the world, and I’m born to be top-20 for 10 years.’ But Magnus [Norman, Wawrinka’s coach] helped me a lot. We changed a few things in my game, like my forehand. Physically I’m at the top because I’m working with the same fitness trainer. He always told me from the age of 16 and 17 that I am not going to be at the top at 24 like many players, it was going to be later, at 27 or 28. [Wawrinka turned 30 in March.]

Then everything comes together. You start to win tournaments, you start to win matches, you still work hard to improve your game. I think this year, we have worked quite a lot to improve my backhand. Maybe you cannot see it because it was already good. But now I feel better.” Wawrinka is always a crowd-pleaser, for he owns the most exhilaratingly unfettered game on the tour. But there is nothing better than when he faces up against Djokovic in a classic contrast of styles: the maverick against the grinder.

Many tennis-lovers will privately be urging both men on over the next 10 days. Because if they meet on the second Friday, as the seedings would have it, their latest encounter could turn into an all-time Wimbledon classic.

I’m still struggling to have the consistency in all year in every tournament,” says Wawrinka. “But the good thing is that when I start to play well in a tournament, to be in the quarters or semis, I never, so far, play bad. I can lose, like last year here at Wimbledon against Roger [Federer], but I still played a good match, In Paris, for the final, I was nervous and everything but my game was there and I had the confidence that I would do a great match.”

It is now a couple of years since Wawrinka began to believe in himself, and finally started fulfilling his potential. The only difference is that now, after the glories of that French Open final, the rest of the world believes in him too.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Hopefully this guy loses 1st round.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Hopefully this guy loses 1st round.
I hope so too, Joao :worship:
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

always good to see the guy who wrote 'the man' all over his body and equipment regarded as a humble people's champion.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Where does he says I can bully him on the court? :confused:

Great to see Stan believing in himself and learning from the top guys. But he never said he can bully him. He said he can make him uncomfortable and push him back. Bully is another thing.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Good attitude, but he's wrong. Alot of players can do it when in form, few can keep it up for a whole match granted. Federer is one.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Sensationalist headline. He did not say that..at least no mention of that in the article. Still, correct in essentials...
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Good attitude, but he's wrong. Alot of players can do it when in form, few can keep it up for a whole match granted. Federer is one.
I think he's talking about current players only...as in players in their current form. Current Federer struggles to "bully" Seppi, let alone anyone else.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Well if he doesn't back up that confidence with wins, he'll fall into a pit of despair from which there is no return. Nothing more devastating than a hurt ego/confidence.
But still he didn't even come close to saying what the thread title says. Bad OP, bad.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Wawrinka can bully Djokovic and make him go running home to his Momma.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Seriously admins should do something with users who make up alleged 'quotes'
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Fraud's arrogance has rubbed off on divorcerinka.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

His game looks disjointed on grass but I'm looking forward to see him play at the us open for sure...
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

I think he's talking about current players only...as in players in their current form. Current Federer struggles to "bully" Seppi, let alone anyone else.
Federer can still "bully" anyone with his serve only. the other part of his game have declined too much, specially the rallying part.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Federer on a fast court like in Dubai and Shanghai can still cover up the holes in his game well enough to bully Djokovic.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

Wow what a great read! Fascinating interview. Stan is indeed a very smart and thoughtful man — much like Novak, which explains why they're friends and like to practice with each other.

This is good for tennis. Shots fired!! Novak feels ready, Stan feels ready. Novak is the best against the field but he will prefer not to play Stan again so soon in a Slam, I imagine.

Interesting how 3 of the Big 4 have fallen off in that Novak has beaten them all (sometimes in dominant fashion) in their last Slam meetings. Yet it's Wawrinka and Nishikori who have Slam wins over Djokovic in the last year.
 

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Re: Wawrinka: I'm the only one who can bully Djokovic on court

cue in the haters ... So he won like 2 times against Nole in the past 5 years or something.... that does not make him a bad person. haha. Nole still owns this "rivalry." A couple of wins don't change anything nor do they make Wawrinka the devil.
 
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