Federer: Stan stopped calling me
As they step onto Rod Laver Arena on Thursday evening, 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer will be announced first as the lower ranked player.
Federer has won 18 of their previous 21 meetings, but a three-time Grand Slam champion himself, world No.4 Wawrinka will arguably be the favourite – on paper at least – to reach a fourth Grand Slam final.
Four years Wawrinka’s senior, Federer recalls how he used to give his fellow Swiss advice, but as Wawrinka began to establish himself as a top player, his role as mentor ceased.
“I remember giving Stan a lot of advice on how he should play certain guys,” said Federer. “What I like with Stan is if I would tell him something, I felt like he was able to do it. That showed me that he’s a great player, that he’s got a mind of somebody who understands what I’m trying to explain him. Some players, you tell them something, they’ve just got no clue what to do, what it means. Stan had that early on, so I think he was a great learner.
“Then the day came where he didn’t call me so much any more. He called me less and less. I also felt like I didn’t tell him any more, because he created his knowledge, his base, had his team. Only from time to time would I give him advice if he asked me. Otherwise I was happy that he was able to let go and go on his own path. I don’t remember when that was, but I think it was sort of a few years before his first Grand Slam.”
After winning his maiden major in Melbourne three years ago, Wawrinka has now won three of the four Grand Slams; proof, Federer suggests that Wawrinka has transformed his game.
“In the beginning, he was really struggling on faster courts,” said Federer. “I played him in Rotterdam and other places. You could sense in his footwork, the way he was returning, that he was uncomfortable on them.
“That’s why it was incredible for me to see that his first Grand Slam he was going to win was the Australian Open. If I would have called any Grand Slam for him to win it was always going to be the French, because he moved so effortless on clay. That’s his base. That’s his DNA really.
“I think he’s done incredibly well on all the other surfaces, including grass actually, also indoors, hard and fast. He’s become such a good player, I super respect that, the guy is able to transform his game like that, in his footwork, in his mind, also in his game plan.
“That’s his transformation, and I like what I saw. He’s always been a believer that he can do it. It shows how far you can go.”
Whether Wawrinka can go any further in Melbourne remains to be seen. He is the higher-ranked player but Federer has been playing his best tennis in years this week and has never lost to his fellow Swiss on a hard court.
“I don’t care much about head-to-heads in general because I feel like every day’s a different matchup,” said Federer, who believes Wawrinka perhaps knows his game better than any other.
“I think him and Rafa know my best game. I played him so much. Stan and I practised so much together. With Rafa, I only practised once in my life, whereas with Stan, I can’t even keep count anymore. I guess those two guys know me very well.”
Roger Federer v Stan Wawrinka
Federer leads the Head-to-Head 18-3
2005 Rotterdam, Federer d. Wawrinka 6-1 6-4
2006 Dubai, Federer d. Wawrinka 7-6(3) 6-3
2009 Monte Carlo, Wawrinka d. Federer 6-4 7-5
2009 Canada, Federer d. Wawrinka 6-3 7-6(5)
2010 Madrid, Federer d. Wawrinka 6-3 6-1
2010 Roland Garros, Federer d. Wawrinka 6-3 7-6(5) 6-2
2010 Stockholm, Federer d. Wawrinka 2-6 6-3 6-2
2011 Australian Open, Federer d. Wawrinka 6-1 6-3 6-3
2011 Indian Wells CA, Federer d. Wawrinka 6-3 6-4
2011 Roland Garros, Federer d. Wawrinka 6-3 6-2 7-5
2011 Basel, Federer d. Wawrinka 7-6(5) 6-2
2012 Cincinnati, U.S.A. Federer d. Wawrinka 7-6(4) 6-3
2012 Shanghai, Federer d. Wawrinka 4-6 7-6(4) 6-0
2013 Indian Wells, Federer d. Wawrinka 6-3 6-7(4) 7-5
2014 Monte Carlo, Wawrinka d. Federer 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2
2014 Wimbledon, Federer d. Wawrinka 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4
2014 ATP World Tour Finals, Federer d. Wawrinka 4-6 7-5 7-6(6)
2015 Rome, Federer d. Wawrinka 6-4 6-2
2015 Roland Garros, Wawrinka d. Federer 6-4 6-3 7-6(4)
2015 US Open, Federer d. Wawrinka 6-4 6-3 6-1
2015 ATP World Tour Finals, Federer d. Wawrinka 7-5 6-3
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