In Federer and Wawrinka, for the first time since the summer of 2008 Switzerland has two men in the ATP ranking’s top ten. At the tournament in Rome, Wawrinka had to withdraw in Round 2.
By Jürg Vogel
Change is a constant in tennis. The super power USA has, for the first time in twenty years, no player in the ATP top ten, while Switzerland has two in the leading group – a representation that, however, only partly reflects the true distribution of power in men’s tennis.
Consequences of Effort
The result seems all the more positive for Swiss tennis’s efforts to build a new platform for the time after Roger Federer. Regarding the considerable stagnation in the field of candidates for a professional career, Wawrinka is buying time for the federation. The Romand [French Swiss] is, at age 28, in his tennis prime. And on the big tour, the presence of thirty-somethings at the top is increasing.
Wednesday [May 15th] however wasn’t a lucky day for Wawrinka. Because of thigh problems, the right-hander had to give up in the second round of Rome. The forfeit was made for precautionary reasons, with the perspective of the French Open (starting May 26th) in mind. Wawrinka had seemed battered in the first round already. He later remarked that he was “playing tennis on one leg” after the effort of Madrid, where he had gone all the way to the final.
Income of four million Swiss franks
Wawrinka is starting this season from a high plateau, a place in the top 20. The Waadtländer, who moved with his family into a new home near Geneva, seems more focused, grown up. The investment of hiring a new coach, the Swede Magnus Norman, a decision taken with his English manager Lawrence Frankopan, is a sign of courage.
Barring injury, Wawrinka will be able to hold a top ten position until the end of the year, which will earn him about one million additional Swiss francs, thanks to bonus payments and appearance fees. His income will rise to the area of about 4 million francs. The player’s gratitude goes to his personal sponsor Reinhard Fromm, who’s been loyally supporting him since 2006, with over one million francs.
Politically, Wawrinka is improving his position in comparison to front runner Federer, in whose shadow he had been standing for years. The two Olympic doubles champions of Beijing 2008 are colleagues, but not friends anymore. One reason is the internal competition, where Federer’s ego is bigger than many outsiders would assume. Always on-call for Davis Cup, Wawrinka is also gaining a lot of goodwill with the Swiss tennis federation, while Federer’s late withdrawal from February’s tie in Geneva, after lengthy dawdling, still has many riled up. The team surrounding Wawrinka at the moment seems more relaxed than that of the superstar, whose image isn’t exactly improved by the aggressive methods of his US-American agent Tony Godsick.
Crowd draw in Gstaad
Federer will be Federer. The technician* happens to be looking for his form on clay at the very moment in which Wawrinka has reduced the gap, sports-wise, between the players. A certain rivalry like Germany once had in Boris Becker and Michael Stich certainly won’t hurt. Wawrinka will stimulate the Helvetic scene. Gstaad is getting an attractive crowd-puller in him. It’s unfortunate that the organizers of the Berner Oberland [region in which Gstaad is located] made a political mistake in giving up the date right after Wimbledon. At its new date in late July, the stars are already fine-tuning for the US hard courts. More than before, this is now true for Wawrinka as well.[*”Techniker” means a player whose main quality is perfect technique, as opposed to someone who wins with strength/force. I’m not perfectly sure whether “technician” is used in the same way, but I didn’t want to substitute it for something like “stylist”, since it’s a totally different meaning.]
–Guest-translated by johnsteinbeck