Tennis is often about figures, keep the ball in play, hit smart when needed go for the lines only when the situation demands it. The figures in this head to head read Roger Federer 13 Stanislas Wawrinka 1. I should probably stop right there, Federer should be massive favourite for this one but the more I think about it he isnt.
In their 14 previous meetings, only once has Stan got the better of Roger. Stan has always had the game to be part of the Top 5 but rarely has he been able to string consistent performances together. In 2014, he finds himself as a grand slam champion deservedly lifting the Australian Open trophy in January. After a post slam slump he is back on his favourite surface gunning for his very first Masters 1000 title.
Why Stan can win?Stan can win as his tennis is as good and as consistent as it has ever been. He hits the ball flat and true and even the best defenders like Nadal, Djokovic and even Ferrer cannot live with Stan when he is on. Stan could polverise Roger today if he stays true to his game. He can bludgeon his great friend and doubles partner off the court from both wings. His serve isnt bad either, it pops off his strings at a cool 130mph.
Stan 2014, has much improved mental toughness. In the past Stan would have epic wins against the top guys only to fade into oblivion. With Magnus Norman in his corner, he has focus, hunger and can get up even when he is knocked down. When things go awry in games, Stan manages to keep his focus much more and can as the tattoo says on his ‘Fail Better.’
If Stan can forget the occasion and who he is playing, he can win this game. If he can play the ball and hit without thinking, then his A game on clay should beat the mighty Swiss 17 time major winner. Federer on the other hand must hope that the pre match dinner last night and the warmup together will have mentally softened Stan and allowed Roger to get in his head once again.
Wereas Roger does not have the sheer power of Stan, he does have more game. He has more variety in every aspect of the game. Much like his quarter final on Friday, Federer will hope to ride out the early onslaught from Wawrinka and nick a few break points here and there. Stan is what Tsonga is capable of becoming, but is simply better. Federer will look to keep Stan moving, bring him forward with the chip slice returns and ripping it past. Roger must hope that Stan doesnt take all his time away though. Without time and constantly under pressure Federer can feel the heat.
For so long Stan has assumed the role of Rogers understudy, today is the day that he will have the target on his back. But as the poem goes, if Stan
‘can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same’
Then he will lift the trophy.
Enjoy the game,its gonna be a cracker!