Sunday, June 28, 2015

How Important is Wimbledon to Wawrinka?

After winning his second major title at this year's Roland Garros, Stan Wawrinka boosted his claim for the title of "best player of the Big Four era who isn't actually a member of the Big Four".  Ferrer may have been more consistent (along with Berdych), but in a sport that measures success in grand slams above all else, it's hard to put anyone else ahead of Wawrinka.  However, given that Wawrinka has struggled to back up big results in the past, he still has some doubters who question his up and down results.  A strong run at Wimbledon would go a long way toward silencing any critics who expect tennis' top players to show up on a consistent basis.

While Wawrinka lost in the first round of the French Open following his 2014 Australian Open title, it wasn't as bad of a loss as some made it seem.  He fell to Guilermo Garcia-Lopez, who is a very talented player and particularly dangerous on clay.   But fair or not, the perception was that Wawrinka choked, and was always going to be inconsistent.  His results have done little to change this perception, though the highs have certainly been phenomenal.

Wawrinka's draw at Wimbledon isn't too frightening, and a run to the semifinals is very manageable.  He's slotted to play Milos Raonic in the quarters, and there's no one of note who should strike much fear into Wawrinka before then.  He's in a section with a lot of clay court players, and it will take an off day by Wawrinka for him to lose before the final eight.  Moreover, with Raonic returning from minor foot surgery, it's questionable whether the Canadian will be in top form himself.  Quite simply, Stan should reach the semifinals, and doing so would send a message to the rest of the tour that he's not just going to fade away for a couple of months following every big result.

Whether Wawrinka has another upset of Djokovic in him is impossible to predict, but just making it to that point would be a big step forward in boosting his "consistency" credentials.  If he's able to take it one or two steps further and win the Wimbledon title he'll have already reached another tier completely (and would surpass Murray in the major title count), but for now many Wawrinka fans are just hoping he remembers the tour doesn't stop every time he wins a big event.  He could never win another match and can always say he's a two time major champion, but a deep run at Wimbledon can help change the perception that he's just a giant killer who only brings his best for a couple of tournaments during the year.   

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