Having a lot of tennis is more than very important, but it is not sufficient. Being born with talent is a blessing, having the qualities to be quite special in something… but it is not enough. Discovering the talent that we have is no simple task; it is a fundamental step. Essential to know in which direction to guide our life, to know which road to take, and to direct all our strength toward one place. Because if we discover what we are meant for… and that we find our passion, the rest is all for us to enjoy.
However, this “enjoy” doesn’t mean that there would be no effort. In fact, there might even be more of it, although it is a distinct effort… an effort that is enjoyed.
Stanislas Wawrinka is now 29 years old, and his tennis has not changed much. Since the beginning, many, including myself, said and thought: “Stan is always on the verge, playing great matches against the best players but falling just at the end…” Many times have we seen him leave the court dispirited, as though he was trying to convince himself that he couldn’t because the others were better.
Exactly a year ago, in April of 2013, Wawrinka took a very important decision: hire Magnus Norman to be his coach.
On top of being a terrific player, who got as high at number two in the world back in 2000, the Swede has been Robin Söderling’s coach, taking his countryman as high as number four in the world in 2010 and converting him into the only player to defeat Rafael Nadal in Roland Garros so far (2009).
Norman’s début as Wawrinka’s coach brought him a title right away, in Oeiras (Portugal), the fourth of the Swiss’s career, after Umag (2006), Casablanca (2010) and Chennai (2011), all of them only ATP250 events. I say “only” because everyone understood that his tennis should have brought him much more than those titles.
In 2008, Stanislas Wawrinka reached the ninth spot in the ATP rankings. However, he seemed to have slipped afterwards, his head betraying him and making him go down to number 28 in the world in 2012. Many then thought that he had slipped from the top 10 forever.
When Magnus Norman started working with Stan, the Swiss was ranked 17th in the world, where he seemed to have capped. Since then, however, Wawrinka has only risen in the rankings with each passing week, until reaching his current third spot in the rankings and the first place in the year-to-date race, the latter meaning that he is, today, the best player in the world in 2014. From January until today, Stanislas Wawrinka is the player who earned the most points, which makes him the “unrecognised World number one”.
The hiring of Norman did not only bring Wawrinka a rise in the rankings. In January, he won his first Grand Slam title after defeating Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final. On Sunday, he won his first Masters 1000 shield after overcoming Roger Federer in the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters final, only his second win over his friend and countryman for 13 defeats (his only prior win having also been in Monte Carlo, back in 2009).
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” This quote from Samuel Beckett, Wawrinka has it tattooed on his forearm.
Talent must come along with a lot of work. Getting together with the right people can give us a boost which is, at times, determining.
Stanislas Wawrinka passed by Monte Carlo the same way he passed by Melbourne, leaving no one behind, not even Roger Federer. He is going the same way he’s always done and plays the same game, but he is now Swiss number one and sits on top of the year-to-date Race… He doesn’t believe that he can’t do it anymore. He doesn’t believe that, mentally, he cannot do it, nor that he will always lose against the ones ahead of him because, although his tennis is the same as it’s always been, he is on top… failing better every time.
(Photos: Getty Images)