19 January - 1 February 2015
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Stanislas Wawrinka

An all-Swiss Grand Slam final has a pretty sweet ring to it for Stanislas Wawrinka.

Not only would it mean the 28-year-old playing the biggest match of his career against a close mate and arguably the greatest player of all time, but it would also preserve a status quo, where the self-effacing contender is happy to play second fiddle – at least in the rankings.

Should four-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer reach Sunday’s decider it would ensure he keeps his nose ahead of his late-blooming countryman in the rankings.

First, he would have to negotiate a way past long-time Spanish rival Rafael Nadal. Easier said than done.

Any notion that the Olympic gold medal-winning doubles partners are about to trade places in the singles pecking order, though, is quickly vetoed by the shyer Wawrinka.

“That’s not important at all. I will always be No.2 after Roger,” Wawrinka said. “He’s a top player, the greatest player ever and so I still think I’m lucky to be playing in the same time as him, so for me to be No.1 or No.2 doesn’t change.”

It’s a scenario Wawrinka could only have dreamt of 18 months ago and would cap an astonishing coming of age in maturity for a player long revered as simply the player with among the smoothest single-handed backhands the game has seen.

Should he continue his giant-slaying run against Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych and then pull off the improbable upset of Federer or Nadal in the final, Wawrinka would become the oldest first-time winner at Melbourne Park since a 30-year-old Petra Korda scissor-kicked his way to the 1998 title.

After his breakthrough Grand Slam upset of three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic on Tuesday night, only his third win against the Serbian in 20 attempts, it was suggested nobody beats Wawrinka 15 times in a row.

“Fourteen is already enough,” he humbly grinned.

It was just his fourth win from 44 matches against the all-achieving Djokovic, Federer and Nadal.

Don’t even think to suggest he could actually be favoured to win a major ahead of his countryman for the first time.

“No, I don't think so. I don't think so. We all know that if Roger is playing his best tennis, he can beat everybody here. Me, it's not the case. I have to play my best tennis. I have to hope that Novak is not in his best form or Rafa is not in his best form or Roger is not in his best form. It's completely different,” Wawrinka said.

He was not about to leave his humility and respect for the big three at that.

“They are just better player than us, than all the rest. They are just amazing fighter, amazing player. That's why they always won everything,” he said. “You have to deal with that. You have to fight. I know that the only thing I can control is what I'm doing off the court: my practise, how I do my schedule. I always try to improve.

“I'm still far from winning the tournament. Two matches, the more difficult matches.”

In overturning the heartaches of losing to Djokovic last year in two of the highest quality five-set matches seen in recent years, Wawrinka brought the Serbian’s streak of Grand Slam semifinals to an end at 14 two nights ago, thwarting any threat to Federer’s record of 23 consecutive final-four appearances.

“I think Roger is really happy that I won tonight. He is my first supporter. He always text me after the match and is always happy for me,” Wawrinka said after his four-hour quarterfinal triumph.

Federer will have to leave his “No.1 Supporter” jersey at home if both end up progressing to Sunday’s final.

“Stanislas Wawrinka, Australian Open champion” still has a pretty sweet ring to it, though, even to Roger Federer.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015
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