French Open – Stan Wawrinka still needs time after his long compulsory break to regain a foothold in world tennis. The man from Lausanne wants to give himself time. But how much does he have left at 37?
It was a rather sobering short stint by Stan Wawrinka in Paris. The fact that the 2015 French Open winner, 2017 finalist and 2003 junior champion was eliminated in the first round for the fourth time in the 17th attempt was somewhat surprising. But the four-set defeat against Corentin Moutet from Paris, who was outside the top 100, showed that Wawrinka was still lacking in a few places two months after the comeback.
“This is my current reality. I knew before the match that I still needed a lot of work and some games to get my tennis going again. It’s not that I’m playing badly or that I’m not doing well. But I don’t feel at the level to win matches like this yet,” says Wawrinka.
Wawrinka currently lacks the power and security of his best days. If he pulls through the punches, he makes a lot of mistakes, if he doesn’t, he robs himself of his greatest strength. He also visibly and audibly lacks self-confidence.
“Bad first-round games are part of it”
He is more nervous on the pitch than before the break and this nervousness does not come from the fact that he played in Paris. “It comes from the lack of trust,” said Wawrinka, who was only allowed to compete at the French Open thanks to the protected ranking and will also be outside the top 250 after the next update.
The situation is not new to him, says the three-time Grand Slam winner. “I know that. I’ve always needed a lot of time before all the pieces of the puzzle in my game fit together. Bad first-round games at Grand Slam tournaments are part of it. You have to go through moments like that to get back up.”
So Wawrinka needs time, and he wants to give it to himself. “I’m fine, but I’m not as fit as I would like to be and I don’t play the tennis I want to play. At the same time, I feel that it’s working better and better,” he says. But how much time does he have left at 37?
“A few more weeks or months, then I’ll be back,” believes Wawrinka. However, age speaks against him. The sports world is generally showing a trend towards longer careers and not only Roger Federer (40), Cristiano Ronaldo (37) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (40) have raised the supposed age limit. In your mid-thirties and soon to be in your late thirties, it is an extremely tricky undertaking to climb back up to the top of the world after a long injury break.
air for training
Not only Stan Wawrinka has been struggling since the two knee and now two foot operations. Even with Roger Federer, who is almost four years his senior, there are increasing doubts as to whether the 20-time Grand Slam winner will be able to make a comeback like he did in 2017, when he sensationally won his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open after a six-month injury break gained.
Wawrinka gives the early exit at the French Open air for the training and training matches that he still wants. According to his plan, from mid-June he will compete on the grass at Queen’s and Wimbledon and then play on clay again in Bastad and Gstaad.
In order not to be dependent on wildcards at the larger tournaments at the beginning of 2023 or after the ninth tournament completed, i.e. after his status as a protected player has expired, it will also be important for Wawrinka to collect world ranking points. Wimbledon is the exception. As of now, no points are awarded there because of the exclusion of the Russian and Belarusian players.