WASHINGTON, November 4, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
Stan Wawrinka arrived at the Rolex Paris Masters this week in a good mindset. It’s good for him and good for tennis, too
“Even without [a] crowd, it’s always a great tournament. We are lucky to still have some tournaments going, so [I’m] trying to enjoy [it] as much as possible,” said the three-time Grand Slam champion, born in Lausanne, Switzerland, and now residing in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
After Wawrinka, 35, won his first-round match against Dan Evans, 6-3, 7-6 (3), on Tuesday afternoon, he sat for a virtual round table with a handful of English-language reporters, including Tennis TourTalk, before switching to take questions in French.
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) November 3, 2020
Immediately, the No. 12 seed Wawrinka was asked how he felt about his form at the moment and how his mindset is looking ahead to next year. “Do you think you’re going to be challenging for the biggest titles in 2021,” he was asked.
“I think in general my form has been going OK,” the 20th-ranked Wawrinka said. “It’s been going well. I’m playing well. I still need to work on many, many aspects. But yeah, as I say, going to be the last tournament here so I’m trying to do as well as possible, trying to keep pushing myself.
“I’m close to the end of my career, but I also believe I have one last push that I really wat to, again, one more time push myself to the limit, make the sacrifice that you need to make to be at my top, and I’m trying to do that.”
Grip & rip 🔥
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 3, 2020
Between 2014-16, Wawrinka won the Australian Open (2014), Roland Garros (2015) and the US Open (2016). They are the zenith of the 16 career ATP Tour titles he’s won during his pro career and he’s been ranked consistently inside the Top 100 since 2005.
“I’m going to try to even push it more during the off-season and see what next year brings,” he said.
Tennis TourTalk asked Wawrinka if he’s been surprised that despite the craziness of this season – in reference to the five-month hiatus of the ATP Tour to combat the global coronavirus pandemic – he’s put together a 20-win season and is ranked in the Top 20. “Does this surprise you, or do you feel that you’re meeting or exceeding your expectations on this season?”
Wawrinka gave the question some serious thought and answered: “No, it doesn’t surprise me. I started the new year really well, and then we were in lockdown for many months. Again, as I say, I think in general I’m playing well. I’m feeling good. But [I’m] not yet at the maximum, I feel. I’m going to take the next few weeks to try to push it for next year.”
Milos Raonic wants to improve his game, stay healthy
Milos Raonic, whose current No. 17 world ranking makes him the current Canadian No. 2, was first off court at Accor Arena Tuesday after his 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 53 Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, which improved his 2020 win-loss record to 20-9. He was in a thoughtful mood and ready to talk – and the media listened very attentively to what he had to say.
“You know, I can look at the tennis and say there is a lot of positives, but I think that’s probably one of the least important things at a time like this,” said Raonic, who spent very little time talking about his match and a lot of time talking about what it’s been like enduring through a pandemic-interrupted season.
“Personally, for me, I haven’t seen my family, seen my parents (father Dusan and mother Vesna, both whom are engineers) one entire year, who I’m quite close with and I spend a lot of time with. When I can between tournaments, I am with them.
“So, those kinds of things weigh on you, and I think another aspect that weighs on you is you don’t know when the next opportunity is. You know, you don’t have something to look forward to.
“But outside of that and outside of all the other hardships, I can say some positive things about my tennis and about trying to really make the most of the time that we had during the hiatus to try to get better, to improve, and get healthy.”
— ROLEX PARIS MASTERS (@RolexPMasters) November 3, 2020
Raonic was asked if it’s been difficult for him to focus on tennis or to get motivated for tennis. “Yes and no,” he said.
“I think once you sort of got past the first aspect of when we stopped [at Indian Wells] and you sort of had something to look forward to, once we knew the US Open was going to happen – obviously anything could have changed in the last minute and here could have changed in the last minute last Thursday when France went on a [lockdown] – that’s sort of the norm we are having now, are tournaments continuing and so forth.
“So, when you have something to look forward to, it’s easy to get motivated. Obviously, with everything else going on, it’s a bit more difficult. But as tennis players, you know, we’re always the center of our own bubble. You know, when we go somewhere, we have coaches and staff that’s there to take care of us in every single way possible as much as they can. So, we’re treated like sort of princesses, and it keep us separated.
“You know, that aspect and the people around me I’m thankful for that have been able to help keep my head on right and keep me focused.”
Q & A with Pierre-Hugues Herbert
During Pierre-Hugues Herbert‘s post-match video chat with reporters, Tennis TourTalk asked the affable French player: “How difficult is it for you to play one of your home country tournaments normally well attended and, of course, this year you’re having to play without benefit of spectators? Is it difficult to be out there on court playing, you know, with very few people in attendance?”
Herbert answered: “For sure it’s different, and for sure a bit sad. But I will take it the other way. Right now, in France you don’t have many events going on. I actually feel really lucky to be out there and being able to compete even without, yeah, without crowd and without, I would say, yeah, noise. (Smiling)
“So, yeah, I would take it the other way. Actually, we are the lucky ones being able to work, being able to compete and having an event that is going on.”
— ROLEX PARIS MASTERS (@RolexPMasters) November 3, 2020
By the numbers
With Matteo Berretini’s three-set loss to Marcos Giron, which didn’t end until nearly 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, Diego Schwartzman will earn the final Nitto ATP Finals berth by reaching the Rolex Paris Masters semifinals, or if Pablo Carreño Busta, Milos Raonic or Stan Wawrinka doesn’t win the Paris title.
— ROLEX PARIS MASTERS (@RolexPMasters) November 4, 2020