Stan Wawrinka’s US Open triumph sent shockwaves through the tennis world. Anyone who witnessed the Men’s Final would have seen Stan’s blistering baseline game simply overpower Djokovic, using his backhand to devastating effect. Not only were Stan’s physical and technical abilities a joy to behold throughout the tournament, but his mental capacity coming from match point down against Dan Evans in the third round to then hammer on to the title was simply superb; something that many of us haven’t seen in Stan’s arsenal before.
A humble Djokovic in the post-final interview was full of compliments for his victor, claiming that tennis now has a ‘Big Five’ with the addition of Wawrinka to the gang of Djokovic, Murray, Nadal and Federer. Djokovic stated how Wawrinka “plays best in the big matches and definitely deserves to be mentioned in the mix of top players”. But in reply to this comment, Stan insisted he is “really far” from the ‘Big Four’…
Let’s take a more in-depth look at Stan’s credentials for a place in this prestigious group of tennis nobility; is the ‘Big Four’ an expired phrase?
Throughout his tennis career, Wawrinka has always been somewhat overshadowed by his Swiss counterpart, a certain Mr. Roger Federer. The GOAT’s 17 Grand Slams and 88 overall career titles clearly dwarf Stan’s accolades. However, Federer’s achievements also tower over Murray’s and the Scot has always been considered a member of the ‘Big Four’. So a direct comparison to Roger shouldn’t mean four can’t become five.
When Stan’s game is running smoothly, it’s hard to argue there is a more exciting player to watch. There are few players that have managed to hit Djokovic off the court, but Stan has now done exactly this, on the biggest stage of all, a Grand Slam final, TWICE! In terms of style of play, Stan is up there with the very best of today’s game.
Stan revels in the big occasion; three Grand Slam final appearances all versus the No.1 at the time – three times the champ. I’m sure Murray is slightly envious of this record… Andy would be on 11 Grand Slams by now if he had a 100% conversion rate like Stan. Furthermore, Stan has won his last eleven career finals. Clearly, he turns it on when it really counts.
There is an element of truth behind Stan still being “really far” from the big four? Firstly, his head-to-head record really isn’t something to shout about:
- vsDjokovic, 5 wins – 21 losses
- vs Federer, 3 wins – 18 losses
- vsNadal, 3 wins – 15 losses
- vs Murray, 7 wins – 9 losses
Stan only has the one ATP Masters 1000 title to his name, winning Monte Carlo back in 2014. It is certainly interesting for a player to have three times more Grand Slam titles than Masters 1000 titles to their name, outlining an inconsistency on the Masters circuit. Maybe it’s a matter of motivation; if it ain’t a Slam, Stan ain’t too fussed.
So Wawrinka has now won three of the four majors with only Wimbledon eluding him. However, it is difficult to see him completing the ‘Career Grand Slam’ due to his incompetency on grass over the years. In 2016, his 1st round exit at Queen’s (vs Verdasco) and a 2nd round loss to Del Potro at Wimbledon (arguably a very difficult draw) highlights the fact he has never come to grips with the surface. The furthest Stan has progressed at Wimbledon is the QF stage in 2014 and 2015, and he still doesn’t have a grass court title to his name. Each of the ‘Big Four’ have had success on every surface over the years; Murray’s clay-court game, previously considered a weakness, has progressed immensely with the titles to prove it. Might Stan’s grass-court game be the only thing preventing him from being considered part of a ‘Big Five’? Well, a double Wimbledon quarter finalist should never be seen as a complete flop, and the way the twilight years of his career are panning out… watch this (green) space.
We certainly think Stan should be regarded as one of the best players of his generation alongside the ‘Big Four’. His three Grand Slam triumphs have set a substantial gap between himself and the other players occupying the top 10 (such as Raonic and Nishikori). There is no reason why Stan can’t begin to mount a challenge for Murray’s World No.2 spot. Hey, maybe he’ll even knock Djokovic off his perch if he continues to play the lights out tennis we saw at Flushing Meadows… So yes, in our eyes it’s now definitely the ‘Big Five’.