Stan ‘fights to progress’ by staying in the present

The 2015 champion doesn’t need a history lesson; he plays for today

Stan Wawrinka, first round, Roland-Garros 2023 © Philippe Montigny/FFT
 - Nick McCarvel

There is no turning back the tennis clock for 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka, one of just two former winners in the men’s singles draw.

But the 38-year-old Swiss star isn’t interested in time travel: he conducts himself only in the present, and in Sunday’s first round he enraptured a packed Court 14 crowd at Roland-Garros.

He beat fellow veteran Albert Ramos Vinolas in four hours and 35 minutes, marking his 45th main draw win in Paris – and 11th in five sets, the latter an Open Era record for this event.

Stan isn’t playing for the numbers, either. It’s all about the now. And the what’s next.

“One of the big reasons why I keep playing is to live these emotions,” Wawrinka told reporters after his win, a first for him at a major since the Australian Open 2021.

“I think it was special today, to be here again, [have] a lot of support, a lot of fans here,” he added. “It helped me a lot to stay in the match and to keep fighting for it.”


Stan Wawrinka in press conference (2015)©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

An upcoming challenge

He next meets Thanasi Kokkinakis, the dangerous Australian who has had his own career rollercoaster and scored an upset over No. 20 seed Dan Evans in the first round.

“It's going to be an interesting match, for sure,” said Wawrinka. “I think it's the first time we are going to play each other. I know him and [have seen] him play many, many times. When he's healthy, like he has been this year, he's always a dangerous player.”

If 2015 brings back sparkling memories of hoisting La Coupe des Mousquetaires for Wawrinka, it was also eight years ago that Kokkinakis last won a match here. In fact, RG 2015 is the only time Kokkinakis has advanced to the third round at any major.

Back with Coach Norman

Late last year, Wawrinka reunited with Magnus Norman, who had helped him to some of his biggest successes, including all three of his major titles.

You won’t find Wawrinka’s name among the men’s favourites this year, but that is not a concern for him or for Norman.

“We are very happy, both of us,” Wawrinka said of the rekindled partnership. “We are highly motivated. We really want to finish our last chapter together, and it's the end of my career.”

He continued: “We have experienced beautiful emotions, both of us. He won his Grand Slams with me as a player, so it's very positive. We know each other well enough to know what we want to achieve, what we can still achieve, and I hope that good results will come.”

Magnus Norman, Stan Wawrinka, practice, Roland-Garros 2023© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Living in the moment

While others are quick to remind Wawrinka of what he’s done in the past, he’s not concerning himself with such matters. He has time for that – in the future.

“This beautiful career I have had, I don't focus on the past,” he said.  “I'm always focusing on the present. For me, thinking about all this is when I will stop playing. As long as I keep playing, it's always been important to be in the present, in the moment with the objectives for the future.”

This is a champion in the twilight of his career, but in no rush for the sun to fully set.

“I know that I'm not at the level of 2015, and I certainly will never be [again],” he said. “It's not a problem for me. I try to enjoy. I'm 38 years old. I have accomplished much more than I could have imagined, but I know that I have a lot of things to do in tennis. I'm still capable of winning great matches. 

“But for that, I need to accept where I am every day. I fight to progress.”