Stan Wawrinka knows he is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but the Swiss is enjoying life as a professional tennis player as much as ever.
The 37-year-old, who turns 38 later this month, is the oldest player in the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Last August the Swiss was outside the Top 300, but he showed great resilience to battle back.
After the 16-time tour-level titlist defeated 26th seed Miomir Kecmanovic on Saturday to reach the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, ATPTour.com caught up with ‘Stan the Man’ about his love for tennis, why he still enjoys the process aged 37, the one match that sticks out from his career and more.
You can see how much fun you still have with the fans on court and everyone shows how much they love watching you play. How cool is that for you to experience?
Of course it’s always special. That’s one of the main reasons why I keep playing tennis. I enjoy what I’m doing. I’m passionate about it. The emotion that I get from the fans, from the people in each tournament, from the support that I can get in matches, is always going to be special. I want to enjoy that as much as I can because the day that I will stop there will be no return.
When you’re first starting as a pro, players worry about results and sometimes forget to enjoy it and have fun. To what extent do you have more fun now than when you started?
I think I always enjoyed it. I think I’ve always been passionate about that. I never forgot why I started when I was young. It was to play a game. [Swinging] a tennis racquet with balls against someone, it’s the game, it’s the sport. Even if some days are not that easy, you always have to push yourself. You have to have great discipline.
I love the work, I love the process to get there too, so I’m lucky and happy that I enjoy what I have to do to be at my top level and also when I play matches, it doesn’t matter which court, which big stadium, small stadium. For me I always enjoy it and I always appreciate the sport.
You mentioned the process. A lot of the time that’s the least fun part of your job. How are you able to continue to enjoy doing the hard work after all these years?
I think you need to see it as the big picture. The day you stop your sport there is no return. There is no way back, because it’s impossible to stop after 30 and then try to come back. It’s almost impossible, it’s so tough. And then you have to see [what is] also tough [is] I’m getting really old for my sport. [But] I’m still really young in my life.
After tennis, there are still so many years to do other stuff, so all together, I want to enjoy as much as possible. It’s a privilege to be a tennis player. It’s a privilege to be playing at that level, to be playing in the biggest tournaments in the world. As long as I’m feeling competitive with what I’m doing, that I feel like I can beat the top players, I’m enjoying that.
You mentioned you’re still young in life. But do you think there will ever be something again like the feeling of winning a close tennis match?
I think we all have different visions of what we’re doing. We all have a different way, that’s the beauty of tennis. There is not one rule. The only rule is about hard work and discipline, but the rest there are many ways of being at the top, many ways of winning tournaments and being at the top of your game. There are many ways of practising, many ways of having different technique and that’s the beauty of the sport.
Work hard and follow your dreams, but never forget where you came from💫❤️!
1-young me dreaming of entering the top100ATP💭🎾
2-old me entering the top100ATP again!I achieved way more than I could have dreamed of but it’s always gonna be special🙏🏻#appreciate #dedication #workhard pic.twitter.com/TleQL5lYdk
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) March 4, 2023
You made a nice post when you returned to the Top 100. How special was that accomplishment to show you are still here?
As long as I feel competitive, I want to keep going. But it’s also to remind people not to forget where you come from and what was your dream when you were young. It doesn’t matter if I won three Grand Slams, if I achieved way more than I could dream of. It still has to be special. If you want to keep pushing yourself after 30 and you want to still be passionate about that, things have to be special.
What was your biggest dream when you were young?
My dream was to be a professional tennis player, so at that time [it] was to be Top 100 in the world.
All year you’ve shown a very good level against a lot of good players. Do you feel that you are right there with them?
I feel competitive. I know that when I enter the court, most of the time I can beat my opponent. I’m not young anymore. Things are a bit more difficult also to keep going back-to-back-to-back days, to push through a tournament. But I still believe that I can win tournaments. I don’t know which level of tournament, but of course I want to win a trophy before stopping.
You still have the shots that you can go and hit whatever shot you want. How does it feel to physically still have the ability to play the tennis you want?
It’s why I keep practising, why I keep pushing myself. I know what abilities I have. I know all the work that’s put in that I have to do to be at that level. Of course it’s great and I’m happy with it, but I want to keep pushing for more.
If you can pick one match in which you had the most beautiful emotions of any, which would it be and why?
It’s tough to say, but I would probably pick the French Open final against Novak Djokovic. It’s tough to pick one because I’ve had so many. I’m lucky I have many big memories, but the French Open has always been special. In France, winning the title after winning in juniors is something really special.