Swiss duo Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka will square off for a 26th time when they take to the court for their Roland-Garros quarter-final on Tuesday. Here's a deep dive into this compelling match-up.
Wawrinka v Federer: Deep dive
Friends, compatriots and former RG champions, the Swiss duo bid for another semi-final spot.
Four year flashback
Rewind to 2015 and Wawrinka was at the peak of his powers, including his pulsating run to lifting the Coupe des Mousquetaires.
He lifted a Grand Slam each season from 2014-16, but Stan’s scintillating brand of tennis was sidelined by knee surgery in August 2017. Ever since it’s been a case of rebuilding for the Swiss, posting “#trusttheprocess” on social media on Monday morning.
That was after a truly classic five-set, five-hour epic against Next Gen Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. It was a rocket-fuelled performance which catapulted Wawrinka back into major contention.
“That's the reason why I came back from the surgery,” said Wawrinka. “That's the reason why I still play tennis, and that's the reason why I'm practising every day, to try to win big matches like that. Today was something really special.”
2009 champion Federer has missed the past three Roland-Garros campaigns, but has slid back onto the terre battue with consummate ease.
Federer is extremely wary of Stan’s resurgence, especially as his last defeat in Paris was inflicted by an inspired Wawrinka in straight sets.
“On clay it's been definitely more dangerous than on any other surface for me against him,” claimed Federer. “I think he's really happy he got sort of a second life on tour It's nice to see him pain-free and playing well. I hope he's not at the level of '15, because there he was crushing the ball. It was unbelievable.”
Finding feet on clay
Wawrinka suffered first hurdle defeats in Rome (Goffin) and in Geneva (Dzumhur) , both from a set lead, but posted impressive victories against Cristian Garin and Grigor Dimtrov in Paris before his Tsitsipas thriller.
Federer was also fairly short of matches before Roland-Garros, but has sauntered through his first week back in Paris without dropping a set.
Record books back Roger
Since their first meeting back in 2005, Federer leads his close friend 22-3. All factors point to the 20-time Grand Slam champion, who has won their most recent six matches.
Federer also holds a 6-1 advantage in Grand Slam bouts against his compatriot, but that only blemish was Wawrinka’s 2015 demolition at Roland-Garros. Surely those memories will offer up some stirring inspiration.
“To play Roger in the quarter-finals, it's amazing for me. I'm really happy. I didn't play here for so many years,” declared Wawrinka.
“He's still playing so well. He's the best player to ever play this sport. So it's going to be a big challenge… I love a challenge like this. I didn't beat him many times in all my career, but I did once here, so I still do remember that time and was a special day for me.”
Where it could be lost and won
Wawrinka’s blockbuster triumph over Tsitsipas would have been incredibly draining. That marathon took him to 12.5 hours on court, in comparison to Federer’s seamless seven. Has Wawrinka had time to replenish his resources to fire on all cylinders?
Unsurprisingly Federer’s net play has been majestic in Paris, with 88/115 success rate from his first four matches. Can Wawrinka arrow an abundance of passing shots to apply the pressure?
So far Wawrinka has struck 76 forehand and 39 backhand winners this Roland-Garros. His explosive artillery will certainly be needed to nullify the net prowess of the world No.3.
A care-free Federer versus a 2015-style Wawrinka promises an absolute blockbuster.