Wawrinka: “Sinner kicked my ass twice this year, but I’m playing much better now”

Stan Wawrinka is back in great shape and he enjoys all the results coming from it. The Swiss is now impatient to see what he is going to be able to do against Jannik Sinner in the third round.

Stan Wawrinka US Open 2023 (Zuma _ Panoramic) Stan Wawrinka US Open 2023 (Zuma _ Panoramic)

Stan Wawrinka: 38 years old and always very young at heart. Here surely lies the secret of his come-back after all the injuries he had to battle against the last few years. Winner of three Grand Slam titles, including the US Open 2016, he again showed on Thursday that he was still able to do some good damage in the draws when he became the oldest player to qualify for a third round in New York since Jimmy Connors in 1991.

And all of this after spending 3h42 fighting against Tomas Martin Etcheverry (7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-2). “I think in general the level was good. We were fighting hard. And I’m really happy to get through that one, especially after losing the second set after more than two hours and with having set point. It was important to really stay with him. I saw he was a little bit struggling physically, he was a little bit getting tired. So I’m happy with the way I pushed myself to finish the match.”

Recently a finalist in Umag, “Stan The Man” is looking seriously good again this summer as he also landed in New York after a convincing win against Frances Tiafoe in Cincinnati. His intensity is fully back on the court and so the Swiss is determined to give Jannik Sinner, one of the main contenders for the title, a run for his money in that third round.

Sinner leads 3-2 in their confrontations, having won the last three whereas Wawrinka had won their first battles including the first one at the US Open in 2019. “The first time was the best time, that’s when I won it”, said a smiling Wawrinka.

“Tough to find some weaknesses in his game”

“Since that, it’s been different. He’s an amazing player. I think the conditions here are really good for him. He’s such a difficult player to play. I played him twice this year and it was super tough for me to keep up with him. He’s super aggressive, and playing fast. He’s moving well. It’s tough to find some weaknesses in his game. Hopefully, I can push him a bit, try to play my game, and try to be the aggressive player on the court. But he’s been full of confidence, so it’s going to be tough.”

Of course, the influence of Magnus Norman is being felt again. Stan Wawrinka doesn’t hide how important it has been to have his coach back. “I’m super happy with Magnus. He’s the one I had the biggest results with in my career, so it’s always good to be together. We know each other super well. We are still motivated to try to improve, push each other, and try to win as much as possible. I’m happy with the work we’ve been doing for a year.”

But if Wawrinka is again able to display such an impressive level of play, it’s surely more about the fact that he’s back to being fully fit. “Physically I think I’m okay. I’m old, of course, but I feel good. Today it was more than three hours, yet I was feeling good on the court against a younger player. I think, against Sinner, that the challenge is going to be about the tennis more than physically. He kicked my ass twice this year already but now I’m playing much better. I’m feeling confident, I know I can last on the court, so I can play more freely and feel better. I just want to keep going, keep pushing.”

Wawrinka surely has heard the voices wondering why he is still out there playing and suffering instead of enjoying his retired life anywhere he’d want to in the world. But for the Swiss, things are very simple: he loves his life as a player, so why would he stop?

“It’s the passion and the love of the game. As long as I’m feeling good on the court, I’m motivated, I love the process of being back. I like the emotion I get from tennis, like today playing Court 17, full of people, playing in the biggest tournaments that we have in tennis, playing some top-30 or top-20 player, and still winning. It’s something special. I also know the day I stop I will never find those emotions anywhere. I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I think it’s an amazing life, and we are lucky to be tennis players and to travel the world, to play in the biggest tournaments. Age doesn’t matter: If you’re still passionate about something, you shouldn’t stop or change.”

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