In the first of a three-part series, Stan Wawrinka talks to rolandgarros.com about his journey to becoming a multiple Grand Slam champion.
The Stan behind the man: Part I
Over the past 50 years, only one man has opened his Grand Slam account shortly before turning 30 and gone on to win (at least) a second major. That man is Stan Wawrinka.
Since the turn of the millennium, the tennis world has been dominated by stars who always seemed to be destined for greatness – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena and Venus Williams. The defending French Open champion is very much the exception to the rule. Far from being born great, he has managed to thrust greatness upon himself, making him an all the more worthy champion.
Here, we look back at the long process which brought him glory in Paris on last June, both with the man himself and the people who have been closest to him as he set out to become a winner.
When you hear the words "Roland-Garros 2015", what image springs to mind first?
It has to be the trophy ceremony and the moment where I am handed the cup. It was one of the most emotional things, if not the most emotional thing, that I have experienced in tennis.
Have you watched the final again? Your level of play was absolutely exceptional that day…
I’ve seen bits of it, highlights. I’ve not watched it all the way through – I’ve never watched a whole match again in my entire life – but yes, I’ve seen parts of it. Quite a few parts. It brings back such good memories so it does you good to watch them again from time to time.
How do you feel when you manage to produce such ideal all-round tennis in such an important match?
I think that it’s the best match that I’ve ever played. And to achieve that in a Grand Slam final, at Roland-Garros, against the world No.1, was ... a surprise. The level of play that I managed to come up with, the concentration, mentally, physically, not to let Novak run away with it ... it was a dream final. I’ve never managed anything like it at that level.
During the match, were you aware of what you were in the process of achieving?
Not really. I was focusing on the moment, on what was happening. I know how quickly a match can turn, particularly against Novak. I’ve played him a few times in Grand Slams, a few times it’s gone to five sets, and each time the match hinged on a couple of points. So I was focusing on my match and not thinking about what might happen. I started to look beyond just taking each point as it comes when I broke and was going to serve for the match. Sitting on my chair at the change of ends, I realised that I had the title on my racquet, that I was going to serve for the French Open. It’s the only time where I looked forward and visualised a potential victory.
That minute-and-a-half must have seemed like a lifetime…
It was actually very short (laughs). Too short, because you have so many thoughts colliding in your head. There was the moment where I realised what the score was and thought "It’s in your hands now, step up, go and win this match: hold service and you’ve won it". And at the same time, I had to stay on my guard, not lose my concentration, and realise that this game was probably going to be the most difficult of the lot.
Look out for Part III of this interview on Saturday at www.rolandgarros.com