The Swiss War between Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka has never attracted anybody’s attention until today. And for good reason. Wawrinka is considered Federer’s whipping baby just like the herd of Spaniards are for Rafael Nadal. The scoreline, 6-1 in favor of Federer, is ample proof, considering that even the solitary victory for Wawrinka came on clay, and at a time when Federer was the most vulnerable.
Today was different, however. Perhaps this was the only time—past or future—that Stan-the-man was considered to challenge Federer; many were touting him to finally topple him given Federer’s inconsistent form in the first week, and Stan’s hair raising performance against Andy Roddick. Stan has never been more motivated, more energized and more deadly on court, and he had the added advantage of Peter Lungdren—Federer’s former coach—on his side to help him with the specifics. An upset would have been a perfect story for the little Swiss who has played his entire career under the shadow of the Great Swiss.
There were a couple of caveats, though.
First, Federer usually ups his performance in the second week of the major, especially after the quarters. Second, Wawrinka was coming after an emotional high after his match against Roddick. Even though Roddick is never in the elite group, he is always one of the biggest scalp for a lesser player. After all, he is a Grand Slam champion, and a former world No. 1—his career is much greater than five of the players (even Novak Djokovic has never attained the world No. 1 ranking) above his ranking. Wawrinka was in the zone against him, he was riding a high wave of confidence, which ended with an emotional high after the match.
A letdown was on the cards. The adrenaline rush was missing today, the yells of “Allez” were absent, and as Steve Tignor wrote, his greatest show of emotion was a broken racquet. And of course, Federer is not the same player as Roddick.
Wawrinka cashed in hugely by nullifying Roddick’s serve with a chipped forehand. While that neutralized the rally against Roddick, it quickly gave the more aggressive Federer and upper hand. While Stan dominated the rallies against Roddick, Federer was always in position to give it back. And when Stan’s down the line backhands were going for clean winners on Sunday, they were meekly dispatched by Federer waiting at the net. Wawrinka simply ran out of answers against the in-form Federer and the high flying Swiss back on the ground.
Of course, Federer has too much respect and concern for his countrymen, and partner-in-crime en route to his Olympic doubles’ medal, hence there was no visible sign of emotion or celebration once the match completed. Wawrinka was stunned, but Federer made his exit comfortable.
As for the others, Federer has given the signal again. He is back in full form, starting quickly, cooling down in the middle—without any brain wobbles, though—and ending with a flourish. He is back to the top of the favorite’s list for the Australian Open—again.