Before last month, Stanislas Wawrinka had always been put in the same category as the likes of Thomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. A player who was dangerous on the court, but not likely to mount a serious challenge on a Grand Slam. So it came as a shock to both tennis enthusiasts and casual fans when he lifted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup as winner of the Australian Open in January.
What made the win more impressive is that not only did the Swiss beat number one seed Rafael Nadal in the final, but also ended the Australian Open 25 match winning streak of often-superhuman Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. It can be argued that luck favoured Wawrinka during the final, due to Nadal’s treatment for injuries, but even the most ardent of Rafa fans would not argue that Wawrinka had Nadal cornered from the outset.
Wawrinka has already surpassed expectations by denting the large trophy-shaped rock left by three of the best players to have ever played the game (Federer, Nadal and Djokovic), and now that Andy Murray has broken the wall of mental toughness by winning two Grand Slams in the past two years, he can safely be added to the list known as ‘The Big Four’.
This begs the question whether Stanislas Wawrinka can go on to win more titles, or if he will fade from the top five. The last non-‘Big Four’ winner of a Grand Slam was the Argentinian Juan Martin Del-Potro, as far back as 2009. After storming to a US Open win, he developed a wrist injury that has contributed to him reaching just one semi-final in 13 Grand Slam attempts since that triumph.
Now that Wawrinka has proven that he has the mental stamina and toughness to see out a championship, along with the experience of winning a Grand Slam, he will be expecting to sustain the level of performance set in Melbourne as he plays for Switzerland in the Davis Cup, before moving onto the clay of Roland Garros at the French Open in May.