Wawrinka is now part of 'Big Five', says Djokovic

Fri May 23, 2014 9:28am EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - The so-called Big Four of men's tennis is now the Big Five according to long-standing member of the elite Novak Djokovic, but Stanislas Wawrinka is not so sure.

Djokovic says Australian Open champion Wawrinka is now the real deal at grand slams and can be talked about as a potential winner of the French Open which starts on Sunday.

Wawrinka's victory over Rafael Nadal in Melbourne added his name to the grand slam winners' list that has been dominated by Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray in recent years and he starts in Paris as third seed.

After several seasons of steady improvement Swiss Wawrinka's breakthrough title in Australia has led to predictions that he can go on and add more major silverware to his collection.

"He deserves to be considered as one of the favorites to win the title because of the fact that he had one of the best results of all the players this year," world number two Djokovic told reporters at Roland Garros on Friday.

"He won his first grand slam; he won the Monte Carlo tournament in great fashion winning against some top players.

"He has proved to everybody that he is one of the contenders for grand slam titles. Now from the mental perspective it's going to be more familiar or easier for him to approach grand slams because he knows how and what it takes to win it.

"He always had a game that he could hurt any player on any surface, but it was just a matter of his self‑belief. Now, mentally he's got stronger and more experienced in the big matches. You can see the reflection in the results he has."

Wawrinka played down suggestions that he is a favorite for the French Open, however.   Continued...

Tommy Haas of Germany reacts as he challenges Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland during their men's singles match at the Rome Masters tennis tournament May 15, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi