'Stanimal' Wawrinka eager to pounce in London

Sat Nov 1, 2014 10:57pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

PARIS (Reuters) - The man known as "Stanimal" will be eager to prey on his rivals when he turns up as a bonafide member of the grand slam winner's club at next week's ATP World Tour Finals.

Just how lethal Stanislas Wawrinka can be on a tennis court was clear for all to see when he ferociously clawed Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal into submission to win his debut grand slam title at January's Australian Open -- thus becoming the first man in 21 years to beat the top two seeds at a major.

He followed that run by toppling his most "fearsome rival", Roger Federer, on red dirt in the Monte Carlo Masters final -- but since then Wawrinka appears to have lost some of his killer instinct.

Fans of the softly-spoken Swiss have been left wondering just which version of the world number four will turn up in London. The player who can boast of being the only man in 2014 to have beaten each of tennis' 'Big Three' or the player who recently failed to win a single match at three successive tournaments?

"I wouldn’t change my year for anything in the world. I won a grand slam, I won a Masters 1000, made quarters at Wimbledon, made quarters at U.S. Open, I’m number four in the world so I’m really, really happy with the year that I’ve had," Wawrinka told Reuters in an interview in the run up to the season-finale.

"When you win a grand slam, you become a part of the history of tennis, I became a top four (player) in the world and it’s now a different approach when you go to a tournament. People expect you to go further in the tournament and win more matches.

"My goal at the start of the year was to qualify (for the ATP Finals)... I’m really happy that I made it for a second year in a row."

Being a grand slam champion has not changed the tennis philosophy he has always lived by -- a Samuel Beckett mantra that is inked in italics on his left forearm: 'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.'   Continued...

Stanislas Wawrinka smiles during a news conference at Palexpo in Geneva September 9, 2014.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files