French Open: 'Mutant' Stan's the man now in Paris
Stan Wawrinka once seemed doomed to life as Roger Federer's warm-up act with the French Open finalist's self-esteem so low that he even lived in awe of the "mutants" who won Grand Slam titles.sports Updated: Jun 06, 2015 14:31 IST
Stan Wawrinka once seemed doomed to life as Roger Federer's warm-up act with the French Open finalist's self-esteem so low that he even lived in awe of the "mutants" who won Grand Slam titles.
But on Sunday, the 30-year-old Wawrinka has the chance to match Federer's best performance in Paris by winning Roland Garros and claim a second Grand Slam title in his last six outings at the majors.
That's two more than his more illustrious compatriot Federer whose last Grand Slam of his 17 was at Wimbledon in 2012.
However, despite his breakthrough to his first final in the French capital, the legacy and shadow of Federer is not far away.
"Great, the first question has Roger in it," said a world-weary Wawrinka when, in the aftermath of his semi-final win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the opening media question concerned his chance to follow Federer's 2009 Roland Garros win.
It's been a long road to the business end of the majors for the world number nine.
It took him 36 Grand Slam tournaments and nine years to make his first final which yielded his one major to date at the 2014 Australian Open.
During that same period, Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were carving up the silverware and the big money.
"My dream was to play Roland Garros, not to win it, not to reach the final," said Wawrinka.
"To me, the players that did were mutants. But to reach the final here and in Australia last year is exceptional.
"I will try and enjoy it as much as I can. Tennis is an extreme sport in terms of emotions -- in a good way and a bad way. You should make the most of these moments and enjoy them fully."
'This is huge for me'
Wawrinka has certainly endured a dramatic French Open.
It began with him condemning the tournament's official website for delving into his private life.
Wawrinka had announced last month that he and his wife Ilham were separating but he was furious to discover that his personal problems were the focus of the website's preview of his opening round match.
"It was a completely stupid article. For a Grand Slam website, it should be an article about the tennis and that's it," said Wawrinka. "It was a shit article."
His fortnight stay in Paris made more headlines for his straight-sets defeat of Federer in the quarter-finals, only his third win in 19 matches against his Davis Cup and Olympic gold medal winning teammate.
On Sunday, Wawrinka will face either world number one Novak Djokovic or third-ranked Andy Murray for the title.(Agencies)
Both potential rivals are chasing history -- a title for Djokovic would complete the career Grand Slam while Murray could become the first British winner since 1935.
"Novak is a machine," said Wawrinka, still in disbelief that he is one of the three men left standing.
"I still don't understand what is happening. I look at my career and I have the impression I am saying it's the final of Roland Garros. Who's playing? You know, I am going to watch this final.
"And then this time, it's me. But I am not forgetting that this is huge for me. It's not normal because I am not in the 'big four'."