Wawrinka ready to emerge from Roger's shadow

It was probably the most bizarre celebration in the history of tennis. After his victories in the semi-finals and final of the Olympic doubles tournament in Beijing last summer, Stanislas Wawrinka would lie on the court while his partner, Roger Federer, knelt down and held out his hands as if warming them over a camp fire.

The explanation? Federer said that Stanislas Wawrinka was on such a hot streak that he was on fire. As a partnership they were certainly too hot for the opposition and their gold-winning performance earned them the accolade back home as Switzerland's team of the year. It was one of the few occasions in Wawrinka's life that he was able to share the limelight with Federer.

The Swiss No 2 is an accomplished player in his own right, ranked No 18 in the world, but usually the only place where he can upstage the five-times Wimbledon champion is on the table tennis table. Wawrinka beat his Davis Cup colleague at the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time two months ago, but Federer was on a working honeymoon at the time, having wed his long-time girlfriend, Mirka Vavrinec, five days earlier.

Wawrinka, 24, is one of Federer's best friends in tennis. They are Switzerland's first-choice players in both singles and doubles in the Davis Cup, which is where Wawrinka has his best opportunity of getting one over the former world No 1.

"I play Roger at ping pong in Davis Cup ties," Wawrinka said. "I have beaten him at ping pong, but it's not easy." He agreed that he was quite different in personality to Federer, particularly on the court. "He just plays in a more relaxed way and always makes it looks easy," Wawrinka said. "We're quite similar away from the courts, but on the court we're not the same for sure. He's the best player ever and he's playing so well."

Did he think he would be doing his fellow countryman a favour if he could beat Murray today? "That's not what I'm thinking when I go on court," Wawrinka said. "For sure if I won on Monday Roger would be happy, but that's not what I'm thinking."

Wawrinka's surname is evidence of his Polish ancestry, but his father is German, his mother is Swiss and he has Czech grandparents. He left school at 15 to concentrate on tennis full-time, won the French Open junior title in 2003 and broke into the world's top 100 four years ago, reaching a career-high No 9 in the world rankings after reaching the final of last year's clay-court Rome Masters.

He is at his best on clay – his only tournament victory on the main tour came on clay at Umag, Croatia, three years ago – and in the week of the pre-Wimbledon grass-court events at Queen's Club and Halle chose to play in a clay-court Challenger tournament in Switzerland, which he won.

Two years older than Murray, Wawrinka did not cross paths with the Scot until Britain played Switzerland in the Davis Cup in Geneva four years ago. Wawrinka won in straight sets in Murray's debut singles rubber in the competition.

They have since become good friends. "We have been friends now for four or five years, since we came on the tour together," Wawrinka said. "We are almost the same age and we practise a lot to together. We enjoy being together and talking in the locker room."

Has Wawrinka seen a change in Murray since his climb to No 3 in the world rankings? "Of course he has changed, but not with me," Wawrinka said. "He's the same. In his game, yes, for sure. He is playing much better."

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue