May 27, 2014
Stan Wawrinka couldn’t take the pressure in Paris this weekend.
Wawrinka just found out what it feels like to be one of the big guns going into a Grand Slam event – and he didn’t seem to like the pressure. The Aussie Open champ has always been the battling underdog with the supreme fighting spirit. But his stunning start to the year in Melbourne seemed to create a heap of psychological baggage for Paris.
‘I was trying to find my game, trying to be aggressive,’ Stan reflected sadly.
‘It was not only the pressure. It’s a different story, a different picture for my career. I have to put the puzzle back together.’
He was stung early by the little-fancied Guiilermo Garcia-Lopez. And despite a brief fight-back in the second set, Wawrinka’s trademark resilience soon evaporated as he went down 4-6, 7-5, 2-6, 0-6. Maybe Stan understands now what Andy Murray has been going through for the past year or so. You achieve a dream and something deep inside changes. The hunger, the motivation becomes compromised. You have to re-adjust and set new targets. This can take time.
Murray seems to have decided to put everything into finding a new spark for Wimbledon.
That’s why he wants to announce his new coach just after Roland Garros. His timing is smart. New impetus at exactly the right time as the world renews its focus on last year’s Wimbledon champion.
Meanwhile back at Roland Garros, two other moments have stood out so far. Maria Sharapova provided one of them with a chilling opener. She looks as though she is totally in the zone already, judging by her brutal first-round disposal of Ksenia Pervak, 6-1, 6-2. Maria would have to defeat Serena Williams in the quarter-finals to progress further here – and her record against Williams isn’t great. Yet there is something about Sharapova which tells us she is ready for the challenge – and even relishing that likely confrontation in the last eight.
On a more light-hearted note, we were charmed by the sight of Novak Djokovic sitting in the rain with a ball boy, holding the umbrella for the youngster instead of observing the more conventional dynamic. As they clinked drinks bottles and talked tennis, we were reminded that our sporting heroes can be every bit as impressive off court as they are in the heat of battle.
Roland Garros is warming up nicely. The perfect appetiser for Wimbledon, the greatest Slam of them all.
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