At this week’s start of the 2016 French Open Stan Wawrinka–formerly known as Stanilas before officially requesting the ATP grant him a name change for purposes of simplicity–steered right clear of the shame of being the first men’s defending champion to lose in the opening round. Wawrinka, the 31 year old Swiss righty who’s seeded 4th this year shocked many with his win at Stade Roland Garros last year as he was certainly considered the underdog against Djokovic who was ranked number one and whom had beat Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and Andy Murray in the semifinals, both ranked above Wawrinka. Of course, the story played out a little differently. Warwinka, in four sets, called lights out on Djokovic with his much-lauded one-handed back hand.
Maybe a little. Maybe not. It was John McEnroe, after all, who once said that Wawrinka “has one of the most powerful backhands ever,” and perhaps even “the best one-handed backhand in the game.” Not to mention that Philippe Chatrier court is clay, which Wawrinka considers his best surface and his serve is off the chain. Nevertheless, odds makers and sports commentators didn’t predict such great things for Wawrinka’s Garros go-round this year. Even he himself seemed a little unsure of the certainty of his odds when he said at the Roland Garros press conference just one day in to the tournament, that “Novak was the favorite for sure”, and would be quite “difficult to beat”. His preparations have been a bit different this year where prior to the French Open he played Geneva and won which wasn’t the case in 2015 when he lost in the quarter finals.
Despite the doubters, however, Wawrinka came back from two sets down to defeat Lukas Rosol, 4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. At the time of this article’s print date, nothing more will be known of the state of Wawrinka’s French Open success this year. We do know that former British pro, Tim Henman told the UK’s The Independent that he believes Wawrinka’s the man to beat. “In terms of the highest level of tennis that anyone can produce on a clay court, I think that Wawrinka’s might be the highest…When he’s on I imagine it must be nigh on impossible to play against him given the firepower that he has and the speed he can generate from the back of the court and on serve.” He also mentions the challenges at stake, pointing out that “the challenge for him [Wawrinka] is the consistency…he is much more inconsistent [than Djokovic, for example]. Thankfully for the reigning French Open champ is his lack of fear and his willingness to take risks as made evident by the Samuel Beckett quote tattooed on his forearm, which reads,
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
In any event, he’s failing at failing thus far and we couldn’t be more glad.
Case in point: the superstar athlete has thus far won two Grand Slam titles (the 2014 Australian Open and the 2015 French Open, both times winning against reigning number one players, Nadal and Djokovic, respectively). He also has 12 career titles; a double gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is also one of the few active players on tour to have reached the quarterfinal stage of all four Grand Slams. It should also be mentioned that Wawrinka is one of only three players to have wins against each of the Big Four which includes Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray; with a heavier watch, no less–while Nadal has been known to sport a light-as-a-feather Richard Mille Tourbillon and Djokovic wears a Seiko Astron, Wawrinka wears and plays with an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph; which is quite a substantial timepiece.
Of the relationship with the Swiss watch brand, Wawrinka told Forbes:
“They are a Swiss brand and they are a family brand – these things are naturally important to me, and on top of that, we share values of precision and excellence and I like that. I won a grand slam with an Audemars Piguet on my wrist, so I feel it is a great match.”
We look greatly forward to watching Wawrinka win many a Grand Slam, especially with the killer one-handed back hand of a properly adorned wrist.