He considers his first appearance in a Grand Slam semi final at the US Open a big achievement and is glad that he has added it to his book of triumphs. Remembering his wonderful time there, he says, “It was amazing. The US Open is a very special tournament. I’m very happy with what I did during the US Open and am already looking forward to going back.” While losing important matches is naturally disappointing for him, especially during the first few days after the match, he believes those very defeats make him stronger mentally and give him extra motivation to keep fighting, working hard and try again. Wawrinka ensures he discusses each match with coach Magnus Norman, analyses it, and looks at the positive stuff behind it. The fact that the Lausanne native is always positive and rejoices with achievements both big and small is something that sets him apart. “It all comes step by step. You can always improve your game. I’ve been talking to Magnus this year and believe that this year my confidence has grown and I have played well in big matches and performed very well against top 10 opponents. In New York and London I showed that I can do well against the very best on a big stage,” he says optimistically, adding to it by explaining how all the players in the top 20 are very close to each other and it is so tough to step ahead. Wawrinka is evidently glad that he made it back into the top 10 and even more because he also reached his career best ranking of 8 this fall. He won his fourth ATP title at the Portugal Open 2013 in May, his first since winning the Chennai Open in 2011. This was an important step for the top player, who knew he could go up the ladder. “Winning another tournament in Oeiras was important and a huge confidence booster. I always knew that I could be back in the top ten if I keep working hard and I’m happy that I made it”, he says. The confidence-boosting win over top seed David Ferrer boosted his confidence in a big way. He is proud of his victory against Ferrer, who he feels is a great fighter and always tough to beat. “As a tennis player you want to win titles and at that point I really wanted to win another title. While I was not frustrated because I knew that my work would eventually pay off, I was relieved and happy when I finally held that trophy in my hands.” The Aircel Chennai Open is a tournament Wawrinka has grown to love and respect over the many seasons he has launched there. As a winner of the tournament’s singles title in 2011, he believes the atmosphere on Centre Court is always great. Last year, Wawrinka wowed onlookers when he partnered Frenchman Benoit Paire to lift the tournament’s 2013 doubles title in a match that lasted less than an hour. Even though the players were very disappointed after losing the singles and had to make a big effort to win those doubles matches, Wawrinka cannot forget the support he received from spectators. Remembering the great time, he says, “Preparing for Chennai always has a relaxing feeling to it. I have great memories from 2011 and last year when I won the doubles title with my friend Benoit. I’m looking forward to being back and hope that I can make another strong appearance”. The World No. 8 feels his breakthrough year has come at the right time and not a moment late in his life. He refers to players such as Roger Federer, Tommy Haas and Radek Stepanek, over 30 years old and in their prime. “I feel good to be where I am. I am more mature and that helps a lot when it comes to dealing with the life of a professional tennis player. Today’s tennis is played at such a high level, you need to grow into it, have experience, learn how to deal with your body, the travelling, the pressure and so on”, he exclaims. Talking about the future, he is full of self-confidence and hope. While he respects the players on top, he feels he has what it takes to face them and give a good fight. “They are consistent. Rafa, Novak and Andy have all won at least one Grand Slam and played many finals, something that I’m still hoping to achieve one day. I’m confident going into 2014. Top players are extremely tough to beat and you need to play your best tennis. I’ve already beaten Novak and Andy so I know I can do it. Rafael has been the toughest opponent for me so far. However, if you work hard and keep fighting everything is possible”, he declares assertively. The proud Swissman feels his country is doing a lot to help the juniors but miracles cannot be expected. He still believes countryman Roger Federer is the biggest player of all time. “Roger has helped me a lot, practising with me and giving me advice. We often talk and we know that we can trust each other,” he says, describing his friendship with Federer. Wawrinka remembers his gold at Beijing with pride, saying, “The gold medal in Beijing is still the most important success in my career and a special treasured moment. It would be great if Roger and I could play doubles together again. I love the Olympics and it’s something very special to play for your country.” As a player, Wawrinka understands that one has to learn to accept defeat as well. A tattoo on his left arm sums up his vision – “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Expressing his feelings about defeat, he says, “There is only one player a week who goes home without losing. Even if you play a great event as I did in New York, you end up losing. The most important thing is what you learn from losing, how you improve and work afterwards.” When he is at home, Wawrinka contributes towards the development of the sport of Ice Hockey in Switzerland. He is a member of the board of directors at the Lausanne Hockey Club and likes to exchange ideas with them. While all his siblings play tennis at different levels, his parents work with the differently abled. “My parents are doing a great job. Whenever I visit them I also see the people they work with and sometimes have a chat with them. During the Davis Cup they often come to see me and enjoy watching the matches and cheering for our team”, he says affectionately. Wawrinka is now looking forward to being back in India and enjoying his favourite chicken tikka masala, which he eats almost every day when he is in Chennai! “People are very friendly in India. You always feel welcome and very well treated,” he says. The Wawrinka mantra is simple. It says – “You always have to keep fighting, work hard every day and believe in your chances.” The formula is one that has taken him to a fantastic World No.8 and if all goes well for this young man, the world of tennis can witness his rise even further. About Aircel Chennai Open 2014: The USD 450,000 Aircel Chennai Open, owned by IMG and operated and organised by IMG Reliance, is India’s and South Asia’s only ATP World Tour event. Started in 1996, by IMG, a global leader in sports management and marketing, the event has completed successful years of existence, branding Chennai and India on the global tennis map thus creating a legacy of sorts of promoting international tennis in India. Winner of the prestigious ATP’s Player Services Award of Excellence (2006) for its outstanding organization and wonderful hospitality towards the participants and ATP’s Best Marketing Award (2008), the tournament has acquired the status of a much sought-after tennis event for both players and fans alike in the International tennis circuit. The 19th edition of the event in India and 18th in Chennai will be held from December 30, 2013 to January 5, 2014 at the SDAT Tennis stadium in Nungambakkam, Chennai. The tournament is conducted in Chennai under the aegis of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and is organised with the active collaboration of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) and Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA). About IMG Reliance: In 2010 Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), India’s largest and most recognized private sector company, and IMG Worldwide (IMG), the world’s leading sports marketing and management company, announced the formation of an equal joint venture to develop, market and manage sports and entertainment in India. The joint venture company, IMG Reliance Pvt. Ltd., will create and operate major sports and entertainment assets in the country. In its first initiative, IMG Reliance entered into an agreement with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) to create a new professional basketball league and manage all aspects of the commercial rights to the game in India. IMG Reliance signed a 15-year agreement with the AIFF, to improve, popularize and promote the game of football throughout India, from the grassroots to the professional level. IMG Reliance has also created a scholarship program to identify and train talented young Indians from sports including – basketball, soccer and tennis–at IMG’s world-class sports training facilities at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida.

Stanislas Wawrinka: Matches against Djokovic showed me how close I am to the top guys

At Aircel Chennai Open 2013, Wawrinka partnered France’s Benoit Paire to win the tournament’s doubles title

CHENNAI, December 27, 2013: World No.8 Stanislas Wawrinka is someone who considers Chennai to be among his favourite stops on tour. It is not surprising that the 28-year-old is visiting Chennai for the sixth consecutive year to vie for the crown. The 19th edition of the Aircel Chennai Open, scheduled to take place at the city’s SDAT Tennis Stadium from 30th December 2013 to 5th January 2014 will present an exceptional line up of top talent marked by the lowest ever cut off in the history of tournament.

As one of the top ten players in the world, Wawrinka had a terrific 2013, qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and giving a tough fight to leading players. He reached the semi-finals of the season finale in his debut and though he fell to winner Novak Djokovic, he finished the year on a high, compiling a career-best 51-23 match record on the season – including nine wins against Top 10 players. Describing the year that has gone by, he says, “If you look at my results at the Grand Slams in Melbourne, Paris and New York, 2013 was definitely an outstanding year. My matches against Novak in Melbourne and New York were two of the most spectacular encounters in 2013. They showed me how close I am to the top guys and that I have my chances against them. I’m proud of how I played those matches and even if I lost I learnt a lot”.

The Swissman gained a lot of confidence after his exceptional performance at the Australian Open even though he lost the match against Djokovic. He considers his first appearance in a Grand Slam semi final at the US Open a big achievement and is glad that he has added it to his book of triumphs. Remembering his wonderful time there, he says, “It was amazing. The US Open is a very special tournament. I’m very happy with what I did during the US Open and am already looking forward to going back.”

While losing important matches is naturally disappointing for him, especially during the first few days after the match, he believes those very defeats make him stronger mentally and give him extra motivation to keep fighting, working hard and try again. Wawrinka ensures he discusses each match with coach Magnus Norman, analyses it, and looks at the positive stuff behind it. The fact that the Lausanne native is always positive and rejoices with achievements both big and small is something that sets him apart. “It all comes step by step. You can always improve your game. I’ve been talking to Magnus this year and believe that this year my confidence has grown and I have played well in big matches and performed very well against top 10 opponents. In New York and London I showed that I can do well against the very best on a big stage,” he says optimistically, adding to it by explaining how all the players in the top 20 are very close to each other and it is so tough to step ahead. Wawrinka is evidently glad that he made it back into the top 10 and even more because he also reached his career best ranking of 8 this fall. He won his fourth ATP title at the Portugal Open 2013 in May, his first since winning the Chennai Open in 2011. This was an important step for the top player, who knew he could go up the ladder. “Winning another tournament in Oeiras was important and a huge confidence booster. I always knew that I could be back in the top ten if I keep working hard and I’m happy that I made it”, he says. The confidence-boosting win over top seed David Ferrer boosted his confidence in a big way. He is proud of his victory against Ferrer, who he feels is a great fighter and always tough to beat. “As a tennis player you want to win titles and at that point I really wanted to win another title. While I was not frustrated because I knew that my work would eventually pay off, I was relieved and happy when I finally held that trophy in my hands.”

The Aircel Chennai Open is a tournament Wawrinka has grown to love and respect over the many seasons he has launched there. As a winner of the tournament’s singles title in 2011, he believes the atmosphere on Centre Court is always great. Last year, Wawrinka wowed onlookers when he partnered Frenchman Benoit Paire to lift the tournament’s 2013 doubles title in a match that lasted less than an hour. Even though the players were very disappointed after losing the singles and had to make a big effort to win those doubles matches, Wawrinka cannot forget the support he received from spectators. Remembering the great time, he says, “Preparing for Chennai always has a relaxing feeling to it. I have great memories from 2011 and last year when I won the doubles title with my friend Benoit. I’m looking forward to being back and hope that I can make another strong appearance”.

The World No. 8 feels his breakthrough year has come at the right time and not a moment late in his life. He refers to players such as Roger Federer, Tommy Haas and Radek Stepanek, over 30 years old and in their prime. “I feel good to be where I am. I am more mature and that helps a lot when it comes to dealing with the life of a professional tennis player. Today’s tennis is played at such a high level, you need to grow into it, have experience, learn how to deal with your body, the travelling, the pressure and so on”, he exclaims.

Talking about the future, he is full of self-confidence and hope. While he respects the players on top, he feels he has what it takes to face them and give a good fight. “They are consistent. Rafa, Novak and Andy have all won at least one Grand Slam and played many finals, something that I’m still hoping to achieve one day. I’m confident going into 2014. Top players are extremely tough to beat and you need to play your best tennis. I’ve already beaten Novak and Andy so I know I can do it. Rafael has been the toughest opponent for me so far. However, if you work hard and keep fighting everything is possible”, he declares assertively.

The proud Swissman feels his country is doing a lot to help the juniors but miracles cannot be expected. He still believes countryman Roger Federer is the biggest player of all time. “Roger has helped me a lot, practising with me and giving me advice. We often talk and we know that we can trust each other,” he says, describing his friendship with Federer. Wawrinka remembers his gold at Beijing with pride, saying, “The gold medal in Beijing is still the most important success in my career and a special treasured moment. It would be great if Roger and I could play doubles together again. I love the Olympics and it’s something very special to play for your country.”

As a player, Wawrinka understands that one has to learn to accept defeat as well. A tattoo on his left arm sums up his vision – “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Expressing his feelings about defeat, he says, “There is only one player a week who goes home without losing. Even if you play a great event as I did in New York, you end up losing. The most important thing is what you learn from losing, how you improve and work afterwards.”

When he is at home, Wawrinka contributes towards the development of the sport of Ice Hockey in Switzerland. He is a member of the board of directors at the Lausanne Hockey Club and likes to exchange ideas with them. While all his siblings play tennis at different levels, his parents work with the differently abled. “My parents are doing a great job. Whenever I visit them I also see the people they work with and sometimes have a chat with them. During the Davis Cup they often come to see me and enjoy watching the matches and cheering for our team”, he says affectionately.

Wawrinka is now looking forward to being back in India and enjoying his favourite chicken tikka masala, which he eats almost every day when he is in Chennai! “People are very friendly in India. You always feel welcome and very well treated,” he says. The Wawrinka mantra is simple. It says – “You always have to keep fighting, work hard every day and believe in your chances.” The formula is one that has taken him to a fantastic World No.8 and if all goes well for this young man, the world of tennis can witness his rise even further.

About Aircel Chennai Open 2014:

The USD 450,000 Aircel Chennai Open, owned by IMG and operated and organised by IMG Reliance, is India’s and South Asia’s only ATP World Tour event. Started in 1996, by IMG, a global leader in sports management and marketing, the event has completed successful years of existence, branding Chennai and India on the global tennis map thus creating a legacy of sorts of promoting international tennis in India. Winner of the prestigious ATP’s Player Services Award of Excellence (2006) for its outstanding organization and wonderful hospitality towards the participants and ATP’s Best Marketing Award (2008), the tournament has acquired the status of a much sought-after tennis event for both players and fans alike in the International tennis circuit. The 19th edition of the event in India and 18th in Chennai will be held from December 30, 2013 to January 5, 2014 at the SDAT Tennis stadium in Nungambakkam, Chennai. The tournament is conducted in Chennai under the aegis of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and is organised with the active collaboration of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) and Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA).

About IMG Reliance:

In 2010 Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), India’s largest and most recognized private sector company, and IMG Worldwide (IMG), the world’s leading sports marketing and management company, announced the formation of an equal joint venture to develop, market and manage sports and entertainment in India. The joint venture company, IMG Reliance Pvt. Ltd., will create and operate major sports and entertainment assets in the country. In its first initiative, IMG Reliance entered into an agreement with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) to create a new professional basketball league and manage all aspects of the commercial rights to the game in India. IMG Reliance signed a 15-year agreement with the AIFF, to improve, popularize and promote the game of football throughout India, from the grassroots to the professional level. IMG Reliance has also created a scholarship program to identify and train talented young Indians from sports including – basketball, soccer and tennis–at IMG’s world-class sports training facilities at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida.

Rajendra Ganotra is the Editor of Spicy Stars Mumbai

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